Students, Staff and Faculty Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Volunteering, Marching

Instead of sleeping in on their day off from school, 20 Joliet Junior College students and three staff members volunteered at Hands of Hope of Illinois in Joliet on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day of Service in an initiative called “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”

The JJC group was a part of more than 400 volunteers across Joliet that served the community on Monday, Jan. 20.

JJC students volunteer at Hands of Hope of Illinois in Joliet on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Day of Service.

At Hands of Hope, students organized 2,300 pounds of red beans and six pallets of boxed mini Ritz crackers into smaller bags so they could be distributed to families in Bolingbrook this weekend. Hands of Hope of Illinois is a non-profit organization that distributes food to anyone in need, without any qualifications.

“Twenty students giving up a day off from school was pretty impressive,” said Pam Dilday, JJC director of student activities and campus life. “It was a service project, and they knew they were helping somebody else. It was great because even our students could benefit from the Joliet Hope Center.”

View photos of JJC students volunteering at Hands of Hope

The Joliet Hope Center, in partnership with Hands of Hope of Illinois, is a local grocery store where customers can purchase significantly discounted items by paying a yearly $5 membership fee. The Joliet Hope Center is located at 511 Oakleaf Court, Unit A in Joliet.

JJC Multicultural Retention Specialist Brandon Jackson and Amy Sims, JJC coordinator of student activities and holistic wellness helped set up JJC students’ involvement with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Jackson said he thought the students learned from the experience.

“I think students got an opportunity to see that there are some individuals in the community that are really trying to do some good,” Jackson said. “Seeing those individuals can inspire them to give back to the community.”

View photos of JJC’s Freedom March

This was the first year JJC students and staff participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, but according to Jackson, Dilday and Sims, it won’t be the last.

In addition to volunteering on Monday, JJC held a Freedom March on the Main Campus on Wednesday, Jan. 22. U.S. Congressman Bill Foster was also present, and spoke to students not only about the importance of the holiday and the Civil Rights Movement, but his father’s role in crafting key language in the Civil Rights Act. Leon Victor Anderson, Jr., who was the first black salesman at 3M Company and is a retired Prairie State University professor, also spoke to students about segregation and integration.

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