A Legacy of Service

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UGA students cleared brush during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service last year, and hundreds more are expected to participate this year.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of service lives on at the University of Georgia, where our students, faculty and staff are making a positive impact on communities in Georgia and beyond.

Hundreds of students are expected to turn out for the annual MLK Day of Service on January 16, where they will volunteer at one of nearly 20 sites across Athens-Clarke County. Their participation is organized through ServeUGA, a program of the Center for Leadership and Service in our Division of Student Affairs that provides one-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities for students. ServeUGA includes 40 student organizations that embrace advocacy, philanthropy or hands-on service as one of their primary purposes, and volunteer opportunities range from the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia to Senior Home Assistance and Repair, also known as SHAARE. 

In November, more than 225 faculty and staff in our Public Service and Outreach units were involved in a range of projects—from installing compost bins at local middle schools to clearing trails at Dudley Park—during the annual PSO Day of Service, and more than 70 students performed 2,800 hours of service through five IMPACT Service Break trips over the holiday break. The students fanned across the region, and their destinations included a Charlotte non-profit that delivers meals to seniors and the Tuscaloosa, Ala., chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Since IMPACT was founded, more than 3,000 dedicated UGA students have participated in its service break trips.

Through our service-learning courses, students apply their classroom knowledge to pressing community needs. In the 2015-2016 academic year, UGA offered nearly 450 service-learning course sections with a total enrollment that exceeds 8,200. These amazing students provided 280,000 hours of service valued at $6.67 million in benefits to the community. Service-learning courses are available in each of UGA’s 17 schools and colleges, and they range from health promotion to community economic development and mentoring K-12 students.

In addition to incorporating service into their courses, our faculty are actively engaged in research and outreach projects that contribute to human health, safety and security, and economic vitality. Examples include projects related to infectious diseases and public health, agricultural research that ensures a safe and abundant food supply, and community development projects through UGA’s Archway Partnership.

Collectively and individually, these actions are a fitting way to honor a civil rights leader who famously said that life's most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”