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Oregon State University students and staff participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Saturday by painting the walls at the new Arc Thrift Store in Philomath.

“It’s no small thing that they’ve taken time out of their weekends to be here,” said Diane Scottaline, executive director of the Arc of Benton County. “It speaks to OSU’s commitment to give students opportunities to serve their community.”

The Arc, which provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, purchased the Philomath Plaza building at 110 N. 20th St. last summer. The organization is renovating the building and plans to move into it this spring.

“It’s groups like this who are helping to make it happen,” Scottaline said.

OSU organized service projects throughout the community for students, faculty, staff and families to participate in. Other projects took place at the Old Mill Center, the Men's Cold Weather Shelter, the Grace Center for Adult Day Services and more.

“MLK Day of Service honors Dr. King’s legacy through service,” the university wrote on its event page. “The event empowers individuals, strengthens communities, builds bridges, breaks down barriers, addresses social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of strong, beloved communities.”

Last year, 293 volunteers participated in the MLK Day of Service, according to the university.

Sarah Adkins, a sophomore cultural anthropology student, said it was great to be part of a larger group giving back to the community.

Kayla Leyva, a first-year business management student, said it was fun to spend the day away from schoolwork to volunteer in the community.

“Even though it’s just painting it helps them work toward opening,” Leyva said.

Jeff Kenney, who works in OSU’s Diversity and Cultural Engagement office, said he really appreciated Martin Luther King Jr. Day being used as an opportunity to engage more people in community projects.

Kenney said he liked that the service projects offered by OSU provide for dialogue surrounding issues such as race, class, gender, and in the case of the Arc, ability. He said it’s great to see so many students get involved with the Day of Service.

“This is what makes a college education truly transformative,” Kenney said.

Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or lillian.schrock@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock. 

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Public Safety Reporter