Trimming overgrown plants along trails. Raking up leaves and other plant debris. Hauling wheelbarrow loads of gravel to spread out on trails.
The work at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Corvallis was not easy, but that didn’t stop more than 60 members of the Oregon State University community from showing up on a dreary Saturday morning to do it.
“It’s hard to get up at 6 a.m. to be here, but once you are here it goes quickly and you feel good about yourself,” said Brian Kim, a fourth-year student in OSU’s nuclear engineering program.
Kim was a site leadER at MLK Jr. Park, which was one of the 17 locations throughout the mid-valley that hosted volunteers as part of Saturday's OSU MLK Jr. Day of Service Saturday. Other sites included Heartland Humane Society, the Starker Arts Garden for Education, Corvallis’ Sequoia Creek and Linn Benton Food Share.
Kiara Tomlinson, a student event coordinator with OSU Community Engagement & Leadership who co-organized the day of service, said the event had around 250 people signed up to help out Saturday.
Tomlinson said OSU hosts six days of service each year, but the one honoring MLK Jr. is always the biggest.
Leah Rieteman, a student event coordinator with OSU Community Engagement & Leadership who co-organized the day of service with Tomlinson, said the goal of the day of service is to remind students that the weekend that includes Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just a long weekend.
“We want to make sure for our students it’s not just a day of laying in bed watching Netflix. We still have so much more to do,” she said.
Rieteman added there’s still a lot of effort needed to bring more love and compassion into the world and build community. She said the event targets nonprofits deliberately to build community.
“We go out to non-profits and really build them up and they can support our community more,” she said. She added that students can often be isolated into the campus community, and this event connects them more broadly with the Corvallis community.
Steve McGettigan, with Corvallis Parks & Recreation's volunteer programs, worked with the volunteers at the city's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park Saturday. He said a lot of the landscaping and trail maintenance at the park wouldn’t happen without volunteers.
“It’s critical for keeping this park in an attractive condition for people to enjoy,” he said of the project.
Anthony Rimel covers education and crime in Benton County and weekend events across the Mid-Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-812-6091.