Published: Jan 17, 2007
By Robin Roger
While most people took the day off from work Jan. 15, University of Tampa students turned out for some dirty work.
100 students, faculty and staff shoveled horse manure, picked up trash
and cleaned house as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
They met on campus at 8 a.m., before riding buses out to the various
venues and working from 9 a.m. until noon. Recently, service has become a
large part of the holiday nationwide, as people increasingly choose to
honor the famed civil rights leader by helping others.
is an important aspect of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday because it
brings a group of people together who are of different races,
perspectives, ideas, backgrounds, and ages for one main purpose: to give
back to the community,” said David A. Ramnarine, a junior and treasurer
of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke
about people of diverse communities coming together as one, and this was
one of his main goals. And I think giving back to the community was a
great way of honoring this on his day.”
Organized by the student
organization P.E.A.C.E. (People Exploring Active Community Experience),
the day of service had students traveling to Gorrie Elementary School,
Seniors in Service at Tampa Baptist Manor, Hudson Manor, Keep
Hillsborough County Clean and Bakas Horses for Handicapped.
Bakas Horses for Handicapped 19 students spent the morning shoveling
manure and grooming horses like Sequoia and Little John, who gives back
massages with his lips. These horses give free rides to 100 handicapped
children and adults each week.
“It provides not only physical
therapy, but mental therapy,” said Gina Edwards, volunteer coordinator
and instructor for Bakas. “Riding teaches them balance, but it also
gives them confidence in things they didn’t think they could do. When
they’re non-ambulatory it’s the closest thing they feel to walking.”
The nonprofit has only five full-time employees, so it relies on volunteers like the UT students.
“Volunteers are a big part of our program,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
no riders visited the stables that morning, UT senior Adrienne McGill
knew they would appreciate her hard work. She used to volunteer at a
horse therapy location in Maryland before coming to Tampa.
“I love to volunteer, and I’m not from around here, so it’s good to see what’s out here,” she said.
has also participated in Into the Streets, a larger volunteer event in
the fall. Her freshman year she spent the day at Metropolitan
Ministries, and she returned her sophomore year to volunteer at the day
care center there. She plans to join the Peace Corps when she graduates
and hopes to travel to Africa.
Chemistry professor John Struss
started his day at Keep Hillsborough County Clean, where he helped clean
up trash on the side of the road near the intersection of Adamo Drive
and U.S. 301. His group collected a hodgepodge of cigarette butts and
old receipts, beer bottles and cans.
“Into the Streets and MLK
Day are important because they give us a sense of community, and they
show the students that faculty are involved,” he said. “They also give
me a sense that I am contributing and giving something back.”
Four faculty and two staff members worked side-by-side with students at the event.
it’s just a starting point for students,” said Casey Stevens, advisor
to the P.E.A.C.E. “We want students to get a taste of what service is
about and know that it will be a part of their education at UT.”
event is the first opportunity this semester for new students to
volunteer and learn about life off campus, she added. While many
freshmen participate in the event each year, several upperclassmen also
come, and many historically black organizations regularly include it in
their list of activities for the holiday, she said.
graduate there will still be a lot of problems out there,” Stevens said.
“Hopefully they will learn there are all kinds of populations and
Martin Luther King Day of Service reflects an important
aspect of the University’s mission, which includes the promotion of
experiential learning or “learning by doing.” The event was coordinated
by UT’s P.E.A.C.E. Volunteer Center. For more information about service
opportunities, please contact P.E.A.C.E. at (813) 253-3333 x 3695 or firstname.lastname@example.org