Hundreds Volunteer to Honor MLK as Part of Penn Day of Service

Honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the University of Pennsylvania kicked off its 23rd Annual Commemorative Symposium on Social Change with a Day of Service, Monday, Jan. 15.

Provost Wendell Pritchett opened the day’s activities with remarks to welcome volunteers at the MLK Day of Service breakfast in Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags. More than 500 volunteers participated in a variety of community-service projects throughout the day, including “A Pocketful of Toiletries,” creating bags filled with personal items for women; “Helping Hands,” making gifts that will be donated to West Philadelphia–area shelters; and recording audiobooks to promote literacy.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​One of the day’s highlights included a panel discussion, “Finding Your Path to STEM,” in which high school students learned about career opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, math and medical fields. Panelists shared their own journeys to the STEM fields and set up a college fair with representatives from local schools.

David Mazor, the Health and Wellness Fellow at Penn's Graduate Student Center, coordinated the panel, which included Penn graduate students: Souci Louis, of the School of Veterinary Medicine; Sarah Shin, of the School of Nursing; Lisenia Collazo, of the School of Dental Medicine; Camille McCallister, of the Perelman School of Medicine, as well as Jabril Muhammad, a Penn alumnus and a materials engineer with the United States Navy and Janene Brown, a Penn alumna and a Ph.D. student studying epidemiology at Drexel University; along with Alexa Mock and Sadaè Lloyd from the University of the Sciences.

​​​​​​​Off campus, volunteers spruced up various locations across the city.

For its project the student group, Penn FilmAid, worked to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis and positively impact the lives of refugees. They set up a donation bin in Harnwell College House’s lobby to collect cleaning and office supplies, kitchen items and essentials such as food, toilet paper, paper towels, washcloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste for refugee care packages.​​​​​​​At HIAS Pennsylvania, which provides services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, on the Day of Service the students used the items collected from the supply drive to assemble “welcome baskets” for incoming refugees.

The Day of Service concluded with a solemn candlelight vigil, organized each year by the Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the Gamma Epsilon Philadelphia City Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the W.E.B. Du Bois College House.​​​​​​​The 23rd Annual Commemorative Symposium on Social Change continues through Jan. 31 with film screenings, lectures, workshops, panel discussions and musical performances. Organized by the African-American Resource Center at Penn, all MLK Symposium events are free and open to the public.