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UW-Eau Claire Students Answer Call for Service on Martin Luther King Day

RELEASED: Jan. 14, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Students and others at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are answering President-Elect Barack Obama's call to service by providing meals to low-income families in Eau Claire on the Jan. 19 Martin Luther King Day holiday.

UW-Eau Claire will mobilize more than 50 volunteers including university students and staff, VISTA and AmeriCorps members, and community members to provide services at three community sites on Jan. 19, an effort that is part of a national initiative coordinated by The Campus Kitchens Project, which is organizing a chapter at UW-Eau Claire.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was designated in 1994 to honor King's legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action through community service. This day focuses on King's vision of a just and free society comprised of actively engaged citizens.

A community meal will be served at noon Monday in the Hilltop Center on upper campus. It will be followed by service activities at the Bolton Refuge House, The Community Table, and the Bicycle Repair and Donation Project. After the activities, volunteers will meet for a reflection activity. Many also will attend a 5 p.m. ceremony to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ecumenical Religious Center.

Organizers say this year's Martin Luther King Day is particularly significant because 2009 marks the 80th anniversary of King's birth and national service has been embraced by Obama and his incoming administration.

"This is an historical opportunity to honor and commemorate the life of Dr. King, and to register our hope for this country and its new leadership in the midst of the significant challenges facing us," said Dylan Thomas, an AmeriCorps*VISTA member in the university's Center for Service-Learning, an organizer of Monday's events and an organizer of the The Campus Kitchens Project. "These service projects will be just a few of hundreds of activities held in states and cities nationwide, including service by Barack and Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C., the day before the official inauguration."

Monday's activities will serve as the kick-off for UW-Eau Claire's The Campus Kitchens Project, a project that will involve students leading hunger relief activities by sharing on-campus kitchen space, recovering unused food from campus cafeterias, and delivering meals to low-income neighborhoods, Thomas said.

The volunteer efforts will continue as a semester-long program of service, Thomas said. Twenty-five schools will mobilize more than 500 volunteers to fight hunger at a time when economic woes are sending a record number of Americans to community resources to provide for their families, he said.

The Campus Kitchens Project will team college students with dining services staff to volunteer, and develop and lead programs that provide hunger relief, Thomas said. The program also will provide jobs and life-skills training for unemployed adults, he said.

The Campus Kitchens Project at UW-Eau Claire receives support and funding from the Sodexo Foundation, the not-for-profit charitable arm of the integrated food service and facilities management company that provides dining services for the university. Support for The Campus Kitchen Projects at UW-Eau Claire also comes from the Office of the Provost; the colleges of Business and Education and Human Sciences; University Centers, and Housing and Residence Life.

For more information about the Jan. 19 activities or The Campus Kitchens Project at UW-Eau Claire, contact Dylan Thomas at 715-836-4649 or thomasdp@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB

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