Hampton students gave time at Animal Friends, elsewhere on MLK day
Instead of taking the day off, many Hampton Township School District students made the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday a “day on.”
Michael Amick, an assistant principal at the high school, asked students to volunteer to do something good on Jan. 16 as a way to celebrate the human rights leader and make a day off of school worthwhile.
The Hampton students who participated joined other students from other schools, members of a variety of groups and individuals who spent the day known nationally as the MLK Day of Service volunteering and helping out in the community.
“I'd like them to see the value in volunteering,” Amick said of Hampton students. “I would like to make it a tradition. It's good for them. It's good for the community.”
Students weren't required to partake in any goodwill activities, but Amick gave suggestions such as helping out a neighbor, a church, a synagogue or other group.
He also organized a volunteering opportunity for that day at Animal Friends in Ohio Township. There, 46 students from the high school helped to prepare 3,500 fundraising mailers, said Ashley Reiser, director of volunteer services at Animal Friends.
“Being that we are a nonprofit organization we rely on fundraisers ... to generate the revenue necessary to keep our doors open,” Reiser said. “The Sarris Candy fundraiser is our largest volunteer-driven fundraiser of the year. The group from Hampton helped fold and stuff (materials) for our fundraiser.”
Amick said the students spent about three hours at the shelter, and said he intends to organize a volunteering effort annually on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday whether it's at Animal Friends or at another charity or nonprofit.
This was the first year that Amick organized such an activity.
“The kids had a day off and we had a packed bus. It made me very proud,” said Amick, who has been an assistant principal for three years.
The idea for turning Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday into a “day on” instead of a day off is a national effort. Serving others on this day is an important message of King's, according to the Corporation for Community and National Service website.
High school freshmen through seniors at Hampton are required to perform at least 10 hours of community service each year, Amick said. While their work on MLK Day of Service will count, he said, none of the students asked about it.
Superintendent Michael Loughead noted the activity at a recent school board meeting.
“I think this will be a tradition in the district,” Loughead said.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.