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Each January for a quarter century, thousands of Americans have foregone a day of leisure on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor the work of the slain civil rights leader by helping others.
Arizona State University School of Social Work students will mark the 25th MLK Day of Service by giving the gifts of words, pictures and ideas to children staying at Valley domestic-violence shelters and other nonprofits that work with women and children. Student members of Survivor Link have collected nearly 1,000 donated books they will distribute on Monday, the MLK holiday.
The MLK observance on the third Monday in January is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. Although the day is promoted by the slogan, “Make It a Day On, not a Day Off,” Survivor Link members began their volunteer efforts days before the holiday by gathering and preparing the donated books.
The students obtained the donations from the university community and from the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, which gave about 500 books to the cause.
Survivor Link is a team of educators, students and community volunteers dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and reducing gender-based violence, supported by AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Vista. The two organizations are part of the Corporation for National & Community Service, which coordinates annual Day of Service activities.
Students chose to collect and distribute the books because it’s a part of their mission as part of the AmeriCorps Vista program to serve the community in different ways, said Survivor Link member Netanya Quino.
“This is just part of it,” Quino said. “Providing books for our youth emphasizes the focus Dr. Martin Luther King had in educating our children for a better future by creating a more equitable society.”
After collecting the donated books, the students gathered Jan. 13 to sort and clean each volume and wrap each one individually to give as gifts to the children.
Student Survivor Link member Esmeralda Sanchez said she was excited to donate books to the children.
“I think children are the most appreciative, and just seeing their smiles and knowing that I was a part of it is a reward in itself,” she said.