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Molloy College set for its second annual MLK Day of Service

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Molloy College will welcome youth and their families for a day of service activities on Jan. 20 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Rockville Centre-based university launched the MLK Day of Service last year. After a successful first go-around, with about 200 people participating, the committee of professors and faculty who organized the event will hold it for a second time.

“This year we rallied again and decided to make it an ongoing effort,” said Cathy Muscente, vice president of the Office of Mission and Ministry at Molloy.

Molloy’s MLK Day of Service originated when Dr. Melissa Gebbia, chairwoman of Molloy’s psychology department, approached Dr. Lisa Newland, chairwoman of the social work department, about the lack of Martin Luther King Day service opportunities for young people on Long Island.

This sentiment grew into an idea, and the idea sparked action. A group of about 20 staff members formed a committee to organize the event and turn the “day off” into a “day on.” “There’s a hardworking committee of people who realized this is how they would like to spend their day off,” Muscente said, “and that really says a lot.”

Participating volunteers will have a choice of about five different service activities. Some will assemble thousands of plastic utensil bundles for the Mary Brennan INN, Long Island’s largest soup kitchen, in Hempstead. Others will assemble packages of toiletries for Molloy College students to distribute to homeless individuals in Manhattan during their Midnight Runs program.

These activities each coincide with existing Molloy service programs, giving the college students more items to donate when they visit those in need.

“This year we chose activities specific to service projects we do already on a regular basis,” Muscente said. “They’re geared toward putting together items that ongoing programs need for sustainability.”

The MLK Day of Service will also include stations for volunteers to create “Smile Boxes” with educational items for children at Mount Sinai South Nassau and assemble and package crocheted blankets for chemotherapy patients.

In addition, participants can attend several health workshops throughout the day led by the college’s medical education staff and their students. They include a hands-only CPR course, a skin care education lesson, a vaping workshop and weight/BMI info session.

Local representatives from non-profit organizations, such as LI Cares and American Cancer Society, will attend the event and provide information about service work in the area. Ultimately, organizers’ goal is to breed understanding about neighbors in need and how to get involved.

“Martin Luther King stood for asking people to work with their communities and help stamp out poverty and homelessness,” Muscente said. “I hope people understand that [poverty] doesn’t happen someplace else; there are people struggling who could use assistance of some kind in every community.

“I also hope that people will want to expand these programs and be able to do it another way, [such as finding] an organization in their neighborhoods that they didn’t realize could use this kind of work,” Muscente added.

Sign-in and registration begins at 9:30 a.m. in the college’s Public Square lobby. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a keynote speech from Sister Diane Capuano, of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, about the importance of service and why it’s a key component of Molloy’s mission. By 11 a.m., participants will dive into various service activities.

The event is geared toward youth in the community ages 13 to 18 and their families. To register for the MLK Day of Service at Molloy, visit www.molloy.edu/about-molloy-college/mission-statement/mlk-day-of-service.