West Virginia University Institute of Technology students celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday by braving frigid temperatures and heading out to help organizations in Raleigh and Fayette counties.

The 260 students, faculty and staff members performed a total of 19 service projects throughout the region, WVU Tech Service and Outreach Coordinator Laura Lucas said Monday.

“We had students out there doing things such as painting, organizing, doing crafts for organizations, doing services,” reported Lucas. “It was just a really great day for the Golden Bear family.”

Monday was the fourth year that WVU Tech has celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service with outreach projects in Raleigh and Fayette counties.

“It’s really nice to be able to work in my hometown and see students really engaging and being a part of this community,” said Lucas, who is a Beckley resident. “Sometimes, people call it ‘giving back,’ but I think students receive a lot from being a part of the community.”

Thirteen members of the WVU Tech cheer squad headed to the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, where they separated trash from recyclables and made a collage from throwaway items that could not be reused.

“It was a very productive day,” said cheer team member Jacobi Harris, a mechanical engineering major from Charleston who is in his junior year at WVU Tech. “We do this on the remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr., because of the service he did.

“It was, honestly, a great opportunity that we have, that we got as many students as we had to come out this year,” Harris said. “The service still means a lot to this campus.

“It was a great way to spend my day off.”

At Beckley-Stratton Middle School, WVU Tech volunteers painted and organized the school clothing closet to make the school brighter.

They also took measures to help students stay safe. A flu epidemic had hit the region earlier this month, leading to a number of sick teachers and students in local schools.

On Monday, WVU Tech workers sanitized the entire school, said Emily-Kate Hedinger, Beckley-Stratton communities and schools liaison.

“They’re sanitizing every surface in the school,” said Hedinger. “I think everybody knows how bad the flu has been in Raleigh County. Our students can come back to a fresh, clean school, hopefully free of any flu germs.”

WVU Tech volunteers helped with cleaning at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia on Monday, too.

"WVU Tech continues to be an outstanding partner, not just with the Y, but with our community as a whole," YMCA CEO Jay Rist said on Monday. "Students braved the cold weather today to come to the Y and donate their time to help make our facility shine.

"We appreciate all they did and look forward to hosting them again for another community project in the near future."

In addition to Beckley-Stratton, Raleigh SWA and YMCA of SWV, WVU Tech volunteers headed to the United Methodist Church's New Vision Depot, the Legacy Center, the Women's Resource Center, the City of Beckley, Beckley Art Center, the Humane Society of Raleigh County, the HIVE, One Voice, Camp Royal, Mount Hope Christian Academy, the United Way, Warm Hands Warm Hearts and other organizations, according to a WVU Tech press release.

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