Locals pitch in to give on MLK day


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University of Iowa program assistant Josh Hutchinson spent Monday at the Waterfront Hy-Vee Monday, helping collect food for the Shelter House and Crisis Center’s Food Bank.

“One man gave an entire cart — it just blew me away,”he said. “It was great.”

Hutchinson, a volunteered from the UIStaff Council, joined local residents and other members of the UIcommunity to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by giving back.

Many spent Martin Luther King Day performing service projects across Iowa City, everything from collecting food donations to writing letters to American soldiers overseas.

UIfreshman Kyle Klingbeil stood inside the grocery store, handing out fliers to incoming customers and encouraging them to purchase food to donate.

Klingbeil described the customers as “very generous.”

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Standing nearby, Jessica Hamer, a Kirkwood College sophomore, said she was hoping to gain hours for the 10,000 Hours show.

“I did reports of King in school, and I was always fascinated by his message of equality,” she said. “I think it’s important.”

All three Hy-Vees in the community had drop boxes for items to be donated.

“It is important to help those who need it,” said Tracey Achenbach, who was donating goods at the First Avenue Hy-Vee.

Kelly Jo Karnes, an associate director at the Office of Student Life, encouraged others to give whatever they can.

“It’s not just the big charities that make the difference. The smallest effect goes a long way, and there’s a definite need here in Iowa City,” Karnes said. She estimated volunteers collected around 3,000 pounds Monday.

After a day of volunteering in the community, people gathered for the UI’s opening celebration of Human Rights Week, which started in 1969.

The UI Breakers, Voices of Soul, the Quire, Iowa City Salvation Army praise dancers, and the Langston Hughes all performed at this year’s opening celebration.

“It builds a sense of history in America and helps shape future citizens,” said Katherine Betts, a coordinator of campus programs and student activities in the Office of Student life.

Betts said she hoped the two-week schedule of events will enlighten students and open dialogue about issues facing the community — including hunger and homelessness in Iowa City, the theme of this year’s event.

“It’s a great opportunity for the younger kids to know where they come from and the African-American people who came before them and struggled for their future,” said Naikisha Jones.

Jones is the leader and dance teacher for Ordained to Praise dancers, who performed to a gospel song at the event.

King’s message of unity also echoed with Kirkwood student Lakeesha Jones, who attended the celebration event.

“When we can come together regardless of race, it’d be a better world,” Jones said.

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