Area Students Celebrate Life, Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King
WHEELING — As part of celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, area students participated in two separate events held at the YWCA and Youth Services Systems Winter Freeze Shelter in Wheeling to give back to the community and learn more about civil rights icon’s teachings.
Following a musical introduction by members of the Young Lions with Laughlin Memorial Chapel in East Wheeling, dozens of students who attend the chapel participated in a variety of children’s activities at the YWCA as part of learning about King’s legacy of fighting for civil rights in the face of oppression, according to Laughlin Memorial Chapel Program Coordinator Judith Saunders.
A reading circle, several arts and crafts tables, and essay writing were some of the activities students had a chance to engage in throughout the morning. In addition, a “What is Your Dream” activity table was set up as a way to provide students an opportunity to write down what their dream is as a way to “further the advancement of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream,” according to Saunders.
The YWCA co-hosted the children’s event, as several students from Wheeling University, Wheeling Country Day School and Laughlin Chapel volunteered to help with the day’s activities. Saunders said the students were very enthusiastic about participating in the day’s events and this is the first year they held the chapel’s MLK Day events at the YWCA.
In addition to events at the YWCA, second-graders from Wheeling Country Day School visited Youth Services Systems Winter Freeze Shelter in East Wheeling in the morning as part of learning about homelessness.
Students were not only provided the opportunity to ask AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers Caryce McGurn and Candace Drzik about the shelter, but they also helped stuff care packages with snacks and hygiene items for the guests of the shelter. The students also enclosed colorful handmade cards in each package with words of encouragement and kindness as a way to help brighten the day of each shelter guest. The phrase, “You matter,” was drawn in bold lettering on the exterior of one card and a colorful heart on the front of another card.
When one student inquired why Winter Freeze Shelter’s guests are only able to stay at the facility during night-time hours, McGurn explained the facility is used as an office building during daytime business hours and there are several other local charities like the Wheeling Soup Kitchen and Catholic Charities where guests can visit during the day.