Milligan students honor the legacy of MLK Jr. by serving others

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Jan 15, 2018 at 6:33 PM

Nearly 150 students from Milligan College’s athletic teams spent their day off for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day working to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy of serving others.

At Boones Creek Christian Church, students gathered to undertake a large food distribution drive to help Haiti recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Over the course of the day, they packaged 20,000 individual meals with soy, dried vegetables, chicken powder and rice to send to House of Hope, a Christian ministry in Haiti working on relief efforts in the island nation.

Mark Fox, Milligan’s vice president for student development and athletics, said it was encouraging to see the number of students who volunteered when they could’ve spent their morning sleeping in.

“Of course, today being Martin Luther King Day, Milligan is closed, but we wanted to use this as an opportunity to do some fellowship with our teams and recognize what Dr. King meant, which lines up directly with the mission of the college to make servant leaders and develop character within our students by serving others,” Fox said. “It’s very gratifying to see these many kids that are willing to get up on a day that school is closed to volunteer and help someone else. That’s a very encouraging thing about our school, our country and the future of our country.”

Coordinator Carrie Gunning said the church has been working for the past year to send food to areas affected by hurricanes in the Caribbean as part of their first year as a satellite mission for Kids Against Hunger. So far, they’ve packaged more than 200,000 meals, and she said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the volunteers from Milligan.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s a passion of mine to see the church be a satellite for Kids Against Hunger. We packed about 100,000 meals in December and did another 100,000 (for Puerto Rico) in October,” she said. “The bottom line is to be able to feed kids.”

For Juan Vasquez, a Milligan baseball player, helping with this campaign was personal. He joined other students from the island of Hispaniola to help at Boones Creek with the relief efforts. 

“It feels really good to help out,” he said. “I’m from the Dominican Republic and Haiti is our neighbor, so I feel pretty good about making a difference and helping people who don’t have anything to eat.”

Milligan students also joined to help with other projects throughout the community as part of their day of service:

• At the Appalachian Service Project in Johnson City, which serves the region through organizing home repair projects, students helped organize tools in their central warehouse to mobilize mission groups more quickly.

• At Kingsport’s Camp Bays Mountain, students helped clean up the trails and maintain camp facilities. 

• At Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City, Milligan students helped package more food for those throughout the region struggling with poverty and food insecurity. 

• In Kingsport, Milligan’s Goah Diversity Scholars helped Habitat for Humanity build walls for a new home.

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