OKLA. CITY —
Kameron McAdams already serves his country as an air battle manager in the Air Force.
Monday morning, he was serving his local community by volunteering during the University of Central Oklahoma’s MLK Day of Service at Infant Crisis Services Donald W. Reynolds Center. His wife Kenedie McAdams is coordinator for UCO’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center.
McAdams said he is fairly new to the metro area and wanted to give back to the community. He and UCO student Layla Niavarani, president of the UCO Sigma Alpha Lambda honor society, were working in the center’s warehouse, folding and sorting infant clothing.
Nearby, Jiali Xing, a UCO graduate student from China, and Tre Fairbanks, a UCO freshman, were packaging baby wipes.
“I love kids,” Fairbanks said while he worked.
Fairbanks, who gets credit toward his scholarship by volunteering, said he had previously known about Infant Crisis Services, but he was impressed when he heard about all they do for their clients.
The organization believes every baby and toddler deserves life’s basic necessities. With the community’s help, it supplies life-sustaining formula and food as well as diapers and clothing for infants in times of crisis.
Each month, Infant Crisis Services helps more than 1,200 babies and toddlers in central Oklahoma, helping bridge the gap in services between government programs, according to information posted on the organization’s website. Mothers often have to wait for services up to several weeks during a critical time in a baby’s development.
Last year, due to tornadoes and flash flooding, was a busier-than-normal period. Melissa Smuzynski, Infant Crisis Services’ public relations coordinator, said during May and June services provided spiked due to the natural disasters.
A new BabyMobile, a formula, baby food and diaper pantry on wheels, has enabled the organization to reach new clients in different areas, Smuzynski said.
Without volunteers like the UCO students, Infant Crisis Services would not be able to help as many babies as it does, Smuzynski said. Last year, 2,820 volunteers come through their doors. They helped serve 15,036 babies, a 16 percent increase over 2012.
A group of more than 20 UCO students volunteered at the City Rescue Mission, 800 W. California Ave., in Oklahoma City. They worked in a donation reception warehouse and toured other facilities including a food pantry.
Each year, the nonprofit faith-based organization provides more than 815,000 meals to hungry and homeless visitors and provides 180,000 nights of shelter for homeless men, women and children, according to information posted on its website.
City Rescue Mission was founded in 1960 by a group of businessmen concerned about helping the transient population in downtown Oklahoma City.
As part of their MLK Day of Service experience, the UCO students read and discussed Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from a Birmingham jail, written on April 16, 1963, to fellow clergymen. King responded to their statements calling his activities “unwise and untimely.”
King seldom paused to answer criticism of his work and ideas, which would have consumed much of his time. In the letter, he explained he was not an “outsider coming in” but an invited guest.
“But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here,” wrote the pastor, activist, humanitarian and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, which brought non-violent social change during the 1950s and ’60s.
Fifty years after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, UCO’s MLK Day of Service hopes to inspire students to examine King’s dream and what it means to the current generation and their quest to make a difference, said MeShawn Conley, director of UCO’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
FOR MORE information about the City Rescue Mission, call 232-2709 or visit cityrescue.org. For more information about Infant Crisis Servies, call 528-3663 or visit infantcrisis.org.