Viterbo University encourages people to volunteer to honor MLK Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday encouraging Americans to volunteer. Viterbo University is encouraging its students and professors to take action on the holiday by hosting a day filled with events and acts of service.

“Not in a passive matter, not sitting on their couch and watching some program,” Viterbo’s vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman, said. “But rather coming out to do service and actions is the way to honor that legacy.”

One of the service events was a Knit-A-Thon. Academic advisor Kristen Nyholm says the blankets will be donated to La Crosse Neighbors in Need and Mayo Clinic.

“I hope that it helps the kids that get these blankets know that there are people thinking about them and caring about them,” Nyholm said.

Viterbo students say the events help them learn about communities in need.

“It’s always nice to be able to put what we learn into action and feel closer to the people we have in our community,” Ahna Henrickson, a junior at Viterbo, said.

The university will also host lectures about racism in medicine, importance of diversity, and include a lunch with King’s favorite foods.

“The noon through evening lecture is about learning and celebrating,” Cruz-Guzman said.

Speaker Sylvia Hood Washington will speak about industrial pollution and environmental racism.

“We can use science to eradicate racism, to push that aside, to take away those misnomers, those misinterpretations and really focus on what’s important,” Cruz-Guzman said.

And the university hopes to apply King’s teachings to local issues.

“And tie it into the issues that are relevant today, including immigration and reforming immigration policy. Embracing and being inclusive of those who arrive in the area,” Cruz-Guzman said.

The University will host a meditation event for students and employees later in the week to reflect on service, social justice, and equity.

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