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Record-breaking number of volunteers participate in MLK Challenge

Wood_Lot_t.jpgBOONE- The 13th Annual MLK Challenge had a record-breaking 238 students, faculty, and staff participate in community service activities with 20 corresponding agencies. The event was held on Jan. 16 at Appalachian State University.

Appalachian Brian Estates.jpg
Students throw a birthday party at Appalachian/Brian Estates as part of the MLK Challenge sponsored by ACT (Appalachian and the Community Together).

Family Care Clinic_t2.jpgStudent volunteers sort recyclables and paper at the Community Care Clinic located in Boone.

Mountain Pathways.jpgVolunteers help set up the ground work for a new playground at Mountain Pathways Montessori School of Boone as part of the MLK Challenge sponsored by ACT (Appalachian and the Community Together).

F.A.R.M. Cafe.jpgVolunteers with the MLK Challenge clean up the kitchen at F.A.R.M. Cafe, a community café planning to open in April that will serve all customers, regardless of their ability to pay.

Wood Lot.jpgStudents help Grace Builders of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church with their “Helping Hands Woodlot” ministry located by the Hunger & Health Coalition, which keeps local residents stocked with firewood during the winter.

The day of challenging community service projects began at 8:30 a.m. at Legends on campus. Participants split into groups of 10-12 and were then randomly assigned to a service project for the day. Each of the groups received a small amount of starter money for their challenge, but anything else needed was up to the group and their creativity to find. Food, windows, paint, or a vacuum cleaner were among the items that groups had to seek. At the end of the challenge at 6:30 p.m., participants meet back up at Legends for a closing dinner.

Examples of this year’s volunteer challenges included the gathering of donation items worth more than $900 for the Appalachian Women’s Fund “Bucket for New Beginnings” program, collecting more than $500 of can goods for the Parkway Elementary Food Pantry, and organizing a birthday party at Appalachian Brian Estates.

The event was sponsored by the university’s volunteer clearinghouse ACT (Appalachian and the Community Together), Campus Compact, University Highlands Student Apartments, Earthfare, and local businesses.

Kate Johnson, assistant director of community service, believes the turn out this year was phenomenal and she said she was proud of all the volunteers. “I was impressed with the students who made it a priority to come by early and the overall number of students who participated,” Johnson said.

The MLK Challenge Silent Auction will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Multicultural Center in Plemmons Student Union. All items for the auction were donated during the MLK Challenge from sponsors and local donors. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Watauga Crisis Assistance Network (WeCAN).  This event is open and free to the public.

For more information on the MLK Challenge Silent Auction and ACT, please visit