MLK Challenge draws 200+
by Kellen Moore
More than 200 Appalachian State University students spread throughout Watauga County on Monday, participating in service projects to honor of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
The annual MLK Challenge assisted 17 local nonprofits and organizations as it encouraged students to see the holiday as “a day on, not a day off.”
“All of our vans were full, and all of the site locations were full with students and site leaders,” said Zach Yllanes, service adviser with the Appalachian and the Community Together office, which coordinates the event.
The full day began Monday morning at Legends,
where students were randomly assigned to groups to get them out of their comfort zones.
The projects tackled a range of needs in the community, from clearing leaves and debris from the Horn in the West grounds to planning a birthday party for elderly residents of Appalachian Brian Estates.
Groups also assembled toiletry kits at the Hospitality House, helped with a food pantry at Parkway School and even worked with llamas at the Farm at Mollies Branch in Todd.
“We wanted to be a positive face in the community,” said sophomore Taylor Boyd, who participated with her sorority, Delta Zeta. Plus, it’s a good way to spend a day off from school.”
Samantha Wilson, who worked alongside Boyd raking leaves at Horn in the West, joked that she was “trying to prove that sorority girls do know how to use a rake.”
McKenzie Quattlebaum, a freshman who participated, said she enjoyed doing something different and getting an opportunity to leave campus and see more of Boone.
Staff members of the organizations involved were just as thankful.
“It was, I think, a learning experience for them and a chance to get out and really help somebody who needed it, which was us,” said Diane Price, owner of the Farm at Mollies Branch. “We never have enough hands on the farm.”
The MLK Challenge will reach a milestone next January — the 15th year of the project, and organizers hope there will be just as much participation and excitement in the years to come.
“I know that the MLK day of service is probably one of the biggest days of service throughout the year,” Yllanes said. “Usually the timing of it works out well for most students.”