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Tech Students Volunteer Across Southern WV in MLK Day of Service Projects

Established in 1994 as the country’s only federally observed nation day of service, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service calls upon volunteers to take time during the national holiday to promote stronger communities, meet the needs of their neighbors and honor the teachings of Dr. King.

On Monday, three groups of WVU Tech students bundled up against the cold and headed out into Montgomery, Beckley and Charleston to spend their day helping the people, pets and environment that make up their communities.

Seven students made the early-morning trip east to Beckley, where they volunteered at the  Raleigh County Community Action Association Pine Haven Center. The center offers emergency shelter to the area’s homeless, and Tech’s student volunteers spent hours cleaning, organizing donated clothing items and sorting toys for children housed in the center.

A group of 11 Tech students and one staffer volunteered at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association shelter on MLK Day of Service.A group of 11 Tech students and one staffer volunteered at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association shelter on MLK Day of Service.

Senior mechanical engineering student and president of the WVU Tech Student Government Association, Rob Leibel, said the group was moved by the center’s mission and was grateful for the opportunity to pitch in.

“The students that volunteered felt really great about being able to help others,” said Leibel. “They were all excited and thrilled after they returned. Words cannot even express how happy the students looked after being able to help.”

Heading in the opposite direction, a van of eleven students visited the  Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association animal shelter in Charleston. Student volunteers spent their time at the shelter cleaning cages, walking and bathing dogs and, of course, spending quality play time with the shelter’s residents.

For senior RBA major Stephanie Seewer, the project was a welcome chance to get out into the community and help with the “dirty work” that keeps shelters up and running.

WVU Tech students give a shelter pup a bath (and some much-needed love) during their visit.WVU Tech students give a shelter pup a bath (and some much-needed love) during their visit.

“We got out of our normal routines to go and experience something super cool. The animals all loved to come out and play with us and to be cuddled,” she said. “I always like to remember the quote ‘whenever you think your life is rough, remember there are people who have it ten times tougher.’ This can include animals, which I think are often overlooked, and it is important for these animals to get love and affection until they find a home of their own.”

Another group of students stayed in Montgomery, where they helped members of the  Morris Creek Watershed Association by removing litter from Morris Creek – a local tributary of the Kanawha River on the rebound from severe acid mine drainage – and organizing boots and equipment for the Association’s experiments.

Five WVU Tech students braved the chilly weather to help clean up at Morris Creek.Five WVU Tech students braved the chilly weather to help clean up at Morris Creek.

Taken together, Leibel said the day’s service activities were a valuable opportunity to connect students with the communities that support them – communities their education and training can one day help.

“The students of WVU Tech are more than just gifted in the classroom, but we are gifted, dedicated students in the community,” he said. “When you see how you impact other people, not only does it make the people you help happy, but it can make you happy. Helping like we did goes a long way, and it shows what the students of WVU Tech are all about.”