The volunteers who worked at the Westside Community Garden during Oregon State University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service did as much work as the garden’s regular volunteers could do in two months in a bit more than two hours.
Sue Domingues, who has managed the garden since it started eight years ago, said group work parties like this are invaluable to the garden, which has both plots for nearly 20 low-income families and produces around 2,000 pounds of produce annually to donate to food banks.
“We couldn’t do it without big group work parties,” she said.
More than 50 OSU students and staff turned up to the garden during the service event to help pull weeds, dig new planting beds, move and spread mulch, and move cinderblocks. The garden and ten other volunteer sites were part of an OSU service day honoring the late civil rights leader.
Corin Bauman, an AmeriCorps volunteer who is spending this year with OSU’s Center for Civic Engagement, said 280 people had signed up to volunteer with projects in advance.
“This is our biggest day of service each year by far,” she said.
Bauman said the event is a way for participants to not just honor King’s dreams, but to actively work to make them come true in their community.
“It’s really inspiring to see so many called to action,” she said.
Rebekka Popp, an international student at OSU who is from Germany, helped out at Westside during the event.
“I heard it was a tradition for MLK day, and I wanted to get my American experience,” she said.
Popp said she likes working in the garden and that the event is a good way to meet people.
“It’s a good way to give back to your community and create something together,” she said.