A lot of people in Guilford County spent time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day honoring the iconic civil right leader in various ways, and students at High Point University (HPU) did something special as well in honor of the January 16 holiday – they gave back to the community.

HPU students engaged in several service projects as part of the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In total, the HPU staff and students put in nearly 2,000 hours of service to the community in the initiative the school calls “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”

According to school officials, the service on the day is part of a half million service hours the university contributes annually to High Point and the surrounding area.

Rev. Joe Blosser, the executive director of the university’s Center for Community Engagement said this week that the spirit of King infused the actions of the students.

“Dr. King’s presence is felt throughout the HPU campus,” Blosser said, “from his quotes to his bronze sculpture displayed on the International Promenade.  It’s fitting that High Point University honors this federal holiday with a day of service – it’s an opportunity to honor his legacy by serving others, building empathy and strengthening our community.”

On the day that was a day off work for many, the students volunteered to take part in nearly 20 projects that were meant to revitalize local organizations, clean up the city, and, among other things, provide care kits for veterans.

Also, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students offered free public health screenings in the community at the Pro Bono Physical Therapy Clinic.

Senior Ries Allyn, a journalism major from Stamford, Connecticut, said she’s always looked forward to the day of service.

This year, she took part in several of the good works projects including packaging and serving food at West End Ministries.  She said the day is a time for students to think about those who’ve impacted their lives in a positive way – and it gives her and others at the school “a chance to say thank you through service.”

“Today’s a day to interact with the High Point community and be able to give back to a community that has given so much to us,” Allyn said. “As a senior in this community, I’ve spent four years here, and it has become my second home.”

In addition to students, faculty and staff also participated in the day of service. Jennifer Wagoner, the communications specialist for the Center for Community Engagement on campus, brought her three children along to participate in a winter care kit packing event meant to help out the city’s homeless.