The Edmond Sun
It was Andrew Martin’s first time to volunteer at Edmond’s HOPE Center.
The University of Central Oklahoma junior from Edmond said he wanted to get more involved at the university and in the community. As he sorted kids’ clothing, he said he thought volunteering on MLK Day would be a good way to start.
“All he did was give, give, give,” Martin said of Martin Luther King Jr., the preacher turned civil rights activist who has inspired a nation. “I wanted to give back. I think it’s the least we can do.”
Martin said he is learning more about the HOPE Center, at 1251 N. Broadway. While the city may have a reputation for being an affluent community, the organization shows that no matter how things appear people will still have needs.
UCO has been sponsoring an MLK Day of Service, encouraging students to give back to their community. On Monday, members of the UCO community volunteered at the HOPE Center, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma or Infant Crisis Services.
Elise Marrs, graduate operations manager for UCO’s Jackson College of Graduate Studies, said her family has been a longtime supporter of the HOPE Center.
Marrs said she had not volunteered at the organization, which works to meet the basic needs of the community by providing food, clothing, household items and financial assistance for rent and utilities. The HOPE Center helps about 500-700 individuals each month. It also has a prenatal clinic.
“I thought it would be a great way to support MLK Day,” Marrs said.
Infant Crisis Services spokeswoman Amy Spielberger said volunteers are the backbone of the organization, which served 12,787 individuals in 2012, an average of 1,000-1,200 per month. UCO volunteers were organizing infant formula and baby bottles.
With the community’s help, the organization supplies life-sustaining formula and food as well as diapers and clothing for babies and toddlers in times of need. Oklahoma has the eighth highest incidence of childhood poverty in the U.S., according to Infant Crisis Services, at 4224 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
The organization bridges the gap in current services. Government programs like WIC and the Department of Human Services often require waiting periods of up to several weeks during a critical time in a baby’s development. They don’t provide diapers or certain medically prescribed formulas.
A LEGACY OF PEACE
From 1957-68, King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest and action, according to his biography at Nobelprize.org, the official website of the Nobel Prize.
King led a massive protest in Birmingham, Ala., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before 250,000 people, conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was also arrested nearly 20 times and assaulted at least four times.
At the age of 35, King became the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he said he would donate the $54,123 in related prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
During the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tenn., where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, King was assassinated.
The nation remembers and honors King’s service with M.L. King Jr. Day annually in January.
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