Checking the expiration date and then sorting hundreds of cans of food would have taken a food pantry volunteer three days.
But with assistance from Franklin College students, professors and administrators, the job was done in about two hours at Interchurch Food Pantry on Monday.
More than 180 students and faculty members from Franklin College used their day off to give back to local organizations by cleaning lights at the Historic Artcraft Theatre, sorting cans at Interchurch Food Pantry and organizing hardware and cabinets at Habitat for Humanity. In the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, volunteers were sent to 20 locations throughout Johnson County.
College employees began contacting local organizations in November to see if they needed volunteers to clean, organize or assist employees. The day is a chance for students to give back to their community, and to honor Martin Luther King Jr. After a morning of volunteering, the college also hosted other events to commemorate King, including a march throughout campus.
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For some students, this is the only time they could volunteer in the community with classes, homework and sports throughout the week, junior Kayle Comer said.
“I think it’s just great to get out into the community and give back. We don’t really get a chance to do that often,” Comer said. “I play basketball, so along with practice and school, we’re pretty busy, so we don’t get much time. So it’s kind of nice to get a day off from class to come out and volunteer.”
Freshman Elijah Parmer used to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity when he was a student at Edinburgh Community High School, so he knows the organization can do more with volunteers’ help, he said.
“I enjoy it, and I think we should do more of it,” Parmer said. “It’s always good to pay it forward.”
More than 10 volunteers assisted Franklin Heritage members with deep cleaning the Historic Artcraft Theatre, finishing projects that the organization was never able to do before, such as wiping down every marquee letter in one day, assistant volunteer coordinator Mary Foreman said.
The volunteers had more than 60 cleaning or organizing tasks to get through Monday, but the majority of the work was done in less than three hours, she said.
“The nice thing is even though some of the jobs, they’re not exactly people’s favorites because they’re kind of menial — like wiping off and dusting every individual marquee letter — but that’s something that we’ve never actually done since Franklin Heritage has owned the Artcraft,” Foreman said.
“That’s a really awesome feeling to be able to see that. That was probably the job I noticed the college kids taking the most ownership of, which was really interesting to see.”
Freshman Arthur Terhune grew up in Franklin, and came to the Artcraft as a child to see “The Wizard of Oz” for the first time, he said. Volunteering at the theater was rewarding for him, Terhune said.
“I’m really happy that I can help restore something that was part of my childhood,” Terhune said.