MLK Day Daycare Facelift

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

—Martin Luther King, Jr., “Conquering Self-Centeredness”, 1957

Each January, we plan events that celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2014, we took a new approach to celebrating MLK day, hosting four events focusing on service and discussion of Dr. King’s philosophy.

We designed the events to focus on a different piece of his expansive philosophy, including fighting poverty, nonviolent social change, and fighting discrimination. Then, each tenet of his philosophy was tied to the realities of life in our society today. Read more.

2015 MLK Celebration Events

In January, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through several events, including a book drive, service projects, and a free talk by Dr. Wornie Reed.

Children’s Book Drive

January 19 – February 2
Collection boxes in Squires Student Center atrium, the VT Engage Office (110 New Hall West), Bookholders, the VT Newman Library, and the Blacksburg Public Library.

Did you know that 61% of low-income families have no age appropriate books in their home for their children?

Or that a child from a low-income family enters kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3,000 words, while a child of a middle-income family enters with a listening vocabulary of 20,000 words? (Source: Heart of America.)

To raise awareness of these issues, our AmeriCorps Network members will be holding a book drive in conjunction with our MLK Day activities.

We are looking for new and used books appropriate for 3 – 9 year olds. Any books that are not pre-school/early elementary age will be donated to other local nonprofits.

The books will benefit the Smart Beginnings Reading Hour, a local early childhood literacy program that aims to encourage a love for reading and learning in young children.

For additional questions, contact Erica Wood.

Why are we collecting kids books to celebrate MLK Day?
MLK devoted his life to fighting for social justice. We’re focused on early childhood literacy because the gaps in literacy between kids from low- and high-income homes are dramatic, and have long-lasting impacts.

With this book drive, we hope to not only get more books to kids, but also raise awareness about an important inequality issue in our community.


Service events

Exploring & creating symbols of peace at Belview Elementary! January 26, 11:15 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
We will be honoring Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy by helping fourth graders explore and create symbols for peace. Belview Elementary staff will lead a brief power point presentation and discussion on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and philosophy.

Then, we will continue the discussion with small groups, helping students create symbols of peace which will be displayed in their school. Registration is open!

VT YMCA Thrift Store January 31, 9:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.
We’ll be promoting literacy and honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by sorting books at the VT YMCA Thrift Store, departing campus at 9:45 and returning at 2:15. The lunchtime discussion will highlight Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and philosophy. Sign up here.

Questions about either event? Contact staff advisor Beth at bboehme(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)vt.edu or 540-231-9186.


Wornie L Reed, Professor, Sociology.

Reclaiming the MLK that I Knew

Thursday, January 29, 6-7 p.m., Squires 345

Join us for a talk by Dr. Wornie Reed, who will discuss how over the years, MLK’s message and ideas have been watered down by society.

Dr. King is often depicted as a peaceful dreamer, when he was quite the opposite. He was a revolutionary who was fighting against the “three evils of racism, poverty, and militarism”.

Dr. Reed is the director of the Sociology department’s Race and Social Policy Center. He participated in the Montgomery bus boycott as a student and was active in the Poor People’s Campaign that MLK was leading when he was assassinated. Dr. Reed was an acquaintance of MLK and heard him speak and preach numerous times.


Past Celebrations

Martin Luther King Daycare Facelift

This event paired students with organizations serving children in the New River Valley to spruce up daycare centers. By leading a team in helping to revitalize the community or joining a team, our students worked to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service four years in a row.

Student leaders planned these service project with local childcare centers. They were responsible for meeting with their service site to develop a plan for their project according to the service site’s needs.

With a budget of $100 for project materials (i.e. paint, brushes, construction materials, cleaning supplies, etc.), teams and individuals completed some great projects. Check out their work below!