Colby College student Adaobi Nebuwa, 22, left, and Jonathan Fisher, also of Colby, right, work together Monday to fill bags with personal care essentials at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville. About 300 kits are being assembled that contain hand warmers, washcloths, bandages, hand sanitizer and other items. Local community organizations commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day through personal acts of service for community members in need. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — A project to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was in full swing Monday in downtown Waterville as Colby College leaders and students, along with members of the community, spent time collecting, sorting and packaging personal winter necessities for homeless Mainers.

The Chace Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons was the site of the work; celebrating and honoring the life and work of the civil rights leader by engaging in a day of service was the purpose.

The personal winter care kits were to be packaged and taken to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter later this week, according to Elizabeth Jabar, Colby’s Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement.

“The homeless shelter is such a great partner,” Jabar said, amid a flurry of activity. “They do such critical work.”

Members of the Colby College community, from left, Suheir Alaskari, Jessica Wilbur, Abi Dolloff and Jonathan Fisher organize donated items Monday before filling bags with personal care essentials at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville. About 300 kits are being assembled that contain hand warmers, washcloths, bandages, hand sanitizer and other items. Local community organizations commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day through personal acts of service for community members in need. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Jabar’s office organized the drive to collect personal necessities after she contacted the homeless shelter to ask for a list of items people need. Volunteers on Monday sorted washcloths, adhesive bandages, gauze, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointments, surgical tape, hand warmers and other items, placing them into plastic bags and boxing them to be delivered to the shelter.

A lunch was held at the Colby campus following the service activity, with staff members and students conversing and reflecting on King’s efforts toward justice and peace.

Advertisement

Colby College student Adaobi Nebuwa, 22, of London sorts washcloths Monday while filling bags with personal care essentials at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville. About 300 kits are being assembled that contain hand warmers, washcloths, bandages, hand sanitizer and other items. Local community organizations commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day through personal acts of service for community members in need. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

As Margaret McFadden, Colby’s provost and dean of faculty, helped organize the winter kits at the Chace Forum, she reflected on King and his work.

“I think his legacy is so complex and far-reaching, but it was driven at base by serving others and empowering people to make their lives better,” McFadden said. “And so this feels like we want to use the resources of Colby to empower people in need in the community. We talk a lot about King’s civil rights work, which is extremely important, but he also worked in anti-poverty programs, anti-war activity, so this feels like a little bit in keeping with that.”

Gustavo Burkett, dean of the college at Colby, echoed McFadden’s comments, noting that volunteers from all levels — students, faculty, staff members and others — came together to work on a project to help others.

“I think this is a great opportunity for us to focus on our shared humanity, especially at a time when humanity is challenged in many different ways,” Burkett said.

Colby senior Adaobi Nebuwa of London, who was volunteering to help put the kits together, said she tries to serve others in her everyday life and find ways to give back. The London community helped her family and it is important she do the same, Nebuwa said.

“Being a Black woman, I think it’s very important, and it’s so nice to see this happening today,” Nebuwa, 22, said. “I think Martin Luther King Jr. was very big on serving others and spreading love and being kind and humble, and that’s been such a big thing for me in my life — being able to give back.”

Advertisement

Nebuwa, who is majoring in computer science, has volunteered with the Colby Cares for Kids program; Student Athletes of Color; and the Free Coding Club, which helps youths with computer work. She is also captain of the Colby women’s basketball team.

Nebuwa said that after she graduates from Colby, she hopes to work in impact technology, which involves using technology to help those in need through health care, housing, sports, youth programs or other activities.

Jessica Wilbur, left, and Jonathan Fisher, both members of the Colby College community, fill bags with personal care essentials Monday at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville. About 300 kits are being assembled that contain hand warmers, washcloths, bandages, hand sanitizer and other items. Local community organizations commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day through personal acts of service for community members in need. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“She’s done so many amazing things,” Jabar said of Nebuwa. “She is a campus leader, for sure — an incredible campus leader. I know she has a lot of the respect and admiration of her peers.”

Monday’s project to serve others was just one of many Jabar’s office organizes on a regular basis. She said it hosts Service Saturday every month and works with Waterville-area nonprofits to demonstrate the college’s commitment to the community.

“When we do these service days,” Jabar said, “we’re always asking our community partners: ‘What is a concrete need that you have that the campus community can organize around? What is the current need that you have?'”

Service projects with which Jabar’s office has been involved include the South End Neighborhood Association’s twice-a-year community cleanups; the Waterville Public Library’s seed library program, which enables people to grow their own food; the Waterville Food Bank’s volunteer efforts; the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter’s volunteer work; and a Colby student fundraising walk.

Jabar estimated the volunteers at the MLK Jr. Day event would assemble about 300 personal essentials kits for the homeless shelter.

Elizabeth Jabar, the Lawry Family Dean of Civic Engagement at Colby College, back to camera, gives instructions Monday to members of the Colby community before they resume filling bags with personal care essentials at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville. About 300 kits are being assembled that contain hand warmers, washcloths, bandages, hand sanitizer and other items. Local community organizations commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day through personal acts of service for community members in need. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.