BOONE, N.C. — Nearly 250 students, faculty, staff and alumni will participate in the MLK Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Appalachian State University. The annual event, now in its 19th year, is organized by Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT), whose mission is to cultivate responsible citizenship through education and action. The day of service, reflection and education celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In addition to the challenge, Michelle Alexander — a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” — will speak at the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in Appalachian’s Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. This event is sponsored by the university’s Office of Multicultural Student Development.
The challenge will begin at 8 a.m. in the Parkway Ballroom (Room 420) of the Plemmons Student Union, where participants will be divided into teams and assigned a site leader — an Appalachian faculty or staff member — before receiving a service challenge to be completed for a local organization by day’s end. The event, which engages participants intellectually, socially and physically, will conclude at 5 p.m.
Students may register to participate in the MLK Challenge through AppSync. Registration closes Thursday, Jan. 18, at 11:59 p.m.
Challenges vary, and in previous years have included painting, deep cleaning, repairing fences and cages, stocking food pantries, maintaining trails, building hoop houses, replacing flooring, building picnic tables, throwing a birthday party for residents of a senior living facility, sorting through donations and more.
Longtime partners of Appalachian’s MLK Challenge include the Hospitality House of Boone, Western Youth Network, F.A.R.M. Cafe, the Children’s Council of Watauga, The Children’s Playhouse, Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature (KAMPN), Mountain Alliance, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Appalachian Voices, Joy Cove Group Home, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Habitat for Humanity, Hunger and Health Coalition, W.A.M.Y. Community Action and many others.
During last year’s challenge, 200 Appalachian students gave a total of 1,200 combined hours of service — or the monetary equivalent of $28,272 — to 23 local charitable organizations. Additionally, students raised donations of over $450 for the Junaluska Heritage Association and collected more than 1,400 diapers for the Children’s Council of Watauga by completing bonus challenges.
ACT has facilitated students in providing more than $22.5 million of value to the community over the past 10 years — more than 1.1 million hours of service using the $24.24 per hour national standard for volunteer time, plus nearly $631,500 in funds raised.
About Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT)
Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT) provides service experiences as opportunities to connect and engage with others to build authentic relationships, stimulate critical thinking and skill building, and recognize individual impact and responsibility to the local and global community. Between the 2004–05 and 2018–19 academic years, nearly $25.5 million of value has been contributed to the community via Appalachian State University’s Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT) program (over 1.91 million hours of service plus $781,419 in funds raised) using the $25.43 per hour national standard for volunteer time. ACT partners with over 160 local nonprofits. Initiatives include blood drives, hunger and homeless awareness events, fundraising for local charities and alternative service experiences. Learn more at https://act.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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