Community tackles service projects for MLK Day

Antwain Hunter could have used his day off Monday to write a lecture or work on his dissertation, but the fourth-year Penn State doctoral student was performing tool maintenance at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

As one of 27 local service sites, Shaver’s Creek volunteers worked on trail markers, cleaned tools, sanded signs and made fire starters in preparation for the center’s February opening. More than 270 people participated in the day of service which is part of a week of Martin Luther King Commemoration events hosted by Penn State.

Shaver’s Creek, a public environmental center in Petersburg operated by Penn State, relies on 300 to 500 volunteers each season for maintenance and to make everything run smoothly, building services coordinator Brian Sedgwick said. About 15 volunteers came to work Monday, which he said is a typical-sized group, and even though there are different people sent every year, he knows what kind of work to expect.

“I enjoy working with them,” he said. “They do great work, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Hunter said the work was rewarding, as he scraped dirt from a shovel. He said he decided to volunteer and was happy to find out that he would be going to Shaver’s Creek because he said he’s a fan of the outdoors and that kind of work.

He said he could have used the day to sleep in or do homework, but he wanted to get out and try to make a difference.

“It’s only one day, but it seems like a better use of the time,” he said.

Gary Closs Jr., a Penn State senior and day of service team leader, said he encourages his fellow students to give back whenever they can and said he even convinced several of his friends to sign up for the projects Monday.

“This is just an experience you can’t get back,” he said adding that the volunteers were only giving up a few hours of their day, but he will take more opportunities to volunteer in the future.

For Sandi Richter, the day also served another purpose. In addition to giving her time and making friends, she and about four other members of the Penn State Office of Global Programs Sustainability Committee were looking for ways to make the office more green.

The members were sent to Shaver’s Creek or to work in recycling with the Office of Physical Plant as part of their efforts.

Other projects around the county included sorting stamps at the American Philatelic Society, bingo with seniors at the Elmcroft Senior Center, spliting, stacking and carrying wood at Krislund Camp and organizing clothing at the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

This event is the first of many this week with others such as a speech competition reflecting King’s legacy, an evening celebration in Schwab Auditorium and activities at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.