Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech main campus will be the hub of activity during the Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Service, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, that begins Monday, Jan. 21.

A wide range of themed daily activities from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. will be offered to individuals on campus and in the surrounding communities, with each theme illuminating diverse ways to serve.

VT-ENGAGE is the university’s volunteerism initiative through which faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the university can honor those we lost April 16 through community service. The service week supports this initiative.

Monday’s activities will focus on mentoring and will include displays by several local mentoring agencies, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Roanoke and New River Valleys. Those attending will be able to honor their mentors, sign up for the April 2008 Big Event, and learn about a host of service projects both on and off campus.

“Hope for Children” is Tuesday’s theme. Attendees will be invited to take part in a number of services for children, including collecting metal pop-tops from soda cans to benefit Ronald McDonald House, making hats for children with cancer-related hair loss, or registering to donate bone marrow with the Red Cross. Local hairdressers will provide free hair cuts to those donating 10 or more inches of healthy hair to “Locks of Love,” which provides free wigs to children with cancer.

Wednesday centers on “Animal Care,” when emphasis will be on protecting and caring for our furry and feathered friends and keeping them safe. Stop by to help make environmentally friendly bird feeders. Service displays will provide information on volunteer opportunities to help animals.

“Environmental Concerns” will highlight Thursday’s events. Visitors can make cloth shopping bags to help eliminate plastic/paper ones, discover the scope of their current environmental footprint, and learn about some easy changes that can help create a more sustainable world.

Friday wraps up the week by looking at service efforts farther afield. Focusing on “International Care,” representatives will be on hand to discuss ways in which global contributions can be made, even from home port. Individuals are needed to translate an “Earth Care” document into as many languages as possible.

Representatives from community service groups will be available to answer questions and talk about volunteer opportunities, and a VT-ENGAGE pledging area will be available each day to all who are ready to sign up or to increase their initial pledge.

A target of 600,000 hours of community service before the May 2008 graduation has been set for the initial year of VT-ENGAGE. These hours work in three distinct ways: they meet community needs, manifest loyalty to Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) motto, and continue to honor those we lost on April 16.

Those who already volunteer help provide for the needs of our world in a host of different ways. Many would like to do so, but don’t know where to find the time or energy. Others just don’t know where or how to begin. All students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Virginia Tech are invited to stop by Squires Student Center and the VT-ENGAGE pledge booth during service week for a fresh perspective on volunteering and to pledge.

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