Students fan out across Metro Atlanta for annual King service day, marking Morehouse alumnus’ 89th birthday.Date Released: January 19, 2018
By Tammy Joyner
While many Morehouse College students were home enjoying the last days of winter break, senior Demasio Timmons was in below-freezing temperatures Monday shoveling a mound of wood chips onto a playground at a childrenʼs school in Clarkston.
He and three other Morehouse students spent nearly five hours early Monday beautifying the surroundings of Heartwood Agile Learning Center, an independent school for self-directed learners.
Timmons and the others were among two dozen Morehouse and Spelman students who fanned out across Metro Atlanta to do community service projects to mark what would have been the 89th birthday of Morehouse’s most famous alumnus. The projects were part of the annual Morehouse Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
“It was very satisfying for me to be able to volunteer,” said Timmons, a 22-year-old biology major from Georgetown, S.C. “It felt good to see the smiles and sense of satisfaction of the faculty and students who attended that (Heartwood) school.”
The program is run through the Bonner Office of Community Service at Morehouse. Students generally do 10 to 12 hours of community service, according to W. Monty Whitney, director of the program since 2008.
Mondayʼs activity put into action the Collegeʼs mission of service and grooming future leaders, Whitney said.
“You need to be committed to helping others. Thatʼs part of the mission of Morehouse,” Whitney explained. “Itʼs not a day off. Itʼs a day on.”
Students split into groups and went to four sites. Some went to the Atlanta nonprofit organization Books for Africa, where workers collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa. Others cleared debris and weeds from land framing the Atlanta Beltline near Enola Park South, a few miles from campus. Morehouse volunteers also sorted donated school supplies at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta.
For Timmons, the Day of Service evolved into much more than beautifying a schoolyard. Parents and students who were working on other projects at the school stopped what they were doing and chipped in to help after seeing the Morehouse team hard at work.
“They were people of different races, and we actually bonded,” Timmons recalled. “What made it cool is that there weren’t enough shovels for everybody... one child came out with a pink wheelbarrow to help. It was a little white girl and we were black.”
The collaboration reminded Timmons of Dr. Kingʼs “I Have a Dream” speech, a fitting lesson given the nationʼs renewed racial tensions and strife.
“(King) saw past color and saw where everyone can work together, and that was what the day was all about for me.”
The event, which began at 8 a.m., Monday, Jan. 15, also attracted participants from Spelman College. Taylor Clark, a junior economics major at Spelman, for example, spent a couple of hours digging up weeds and removing debris along the Beltline Monday before going to another community service site. Later in the day, she attended the MLK parade and the Annual Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, located near the King Center. It’s how Clark has spent her MLK holidays while at Spelman.
“I try to give back as much as I can because I believe thatʼs what I was put on this earth to do,” the 19-year-old Atlanta native said. “Community service, to me, means helping somebody I may never meet, but thatʼs what I feel my purpose in life is all about.”
That same sense of purpose prompted Morehouse senior Qualon Bobbitt to forego sleep and brave the 27-degree weather.
“Dr. King was one of our strongest alums,” said Bobbitt, a 21-year-old economics major from Atlanta. “He was probably up at 8 a.m. on days he didnʼt want to be up. I feel if he could do it, I could too.”
Last Modified: January 19, 2018, 18:01 PM, by: Synera Shelton