MISSOULA – Missoula citizens, University of Montana students and national service volunteers will bring the message of Martin Luther King Jr. to hundreds of elementary school children in 25 classrooms as part of the fifth-annual MLK Read for Peace project on Friday, Jan. 16.
MLK Read for Peace, a collaboration between Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) and local schools with support from HOPE worldwide and the Corporation of National and Community Service, places volunteers in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms, where they read and discuss an age-appropriate book about the life and work of King with the students.
Volunteers will lead students in creating a drawing or a poem, which the Missoula Public Library will display at its downtown branch for the month of February. Students also will receive home-fire safety materials to take home to their parents.
“Montana is a state that values differences and that works collectively to solve its problems,” said Josh Vanek, MTCC interim director. “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a great reminder of the grassroots work that communities regularly undertake to address their biggest challenges.”
This event allows students to contemplate the ideas of peace, equality and social justice while enjoying a long weekend in observation of King’s birthday on Monday, Jan. 19. Though King’s work is not a required part of the elementary curriculum in most places, many teachers choose to include King in their January coursework.
MLK Read for Peace is an event in which area teachers engage their students in learning about the iconic leader of the American Civil Rights movement and his engagement in the community.
Last year during MLK Read for Peace Missoula, 34 volunteers read to more than 900 students at nine MCPS elementary schools. This year, the volunteers will reach seven local elementary schools and over 400 students. Volunteers for this event include AmeriCorps VISTA members; Senior Corps volunteers from Missoula Aging Services; UM students, faculty and staff; community volunteers; and local elected officials. This year marks the 29th observation of King’s birthday as a federal holiday.
For additional information on the Missoula area event, email MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA leader Maura Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-243-5451. Information for statewide Martin Luther King Day events can be found online at the Governor’s Office of Community Service website, http://serve.mt.gov.
MTCC works to improve communities and educate students for their civic and social responsibilities. MTCC member campuses include Blackfeet Community College, Carroll College, Flathead Valley Community College, Fort Peck Community College, Great Falls College Montana State University, Helena College UM, Little Big Horn College, MSU-Billings, MSU, MSU-Northern, Montana Tech of UM, Rocky Mountain College, Salish Kootenai College, UM, UM Western and the University of Great Falls.