Cumberlands students served at several locations around Whitley County on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day to honor the legacy of a man who devoted his life to serving others. From distributing packages of food, to cleaning up around Cumberland Falls, to organizing recycled items, and more, Cumberlands students put on their gloves, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work.

“MLK Day of Service” has become an annual tradition for the university. Though each activity only took a couple hours each, students know the life lessons they’re learning through the experience will last a lifetime.

Gerard Liao, a sophomore, said, “It is my first time volunteering in the U.S., but I have done community hours back in my home country of Spain. Helping the community is always good. We have to help each other to be a better community and a better world. I think that’s the point.”

Storm Hollensted, a junior from Denmark, said, “It’s nice helping the community. This job sorting recycling was pretty messy, but I feel like we did a good job. The staff who work here, I think it is good what they are doing, putting their time into cleaning up this world.”

Devon Goings, new director of diversity and inclusion at Cumberlands, commented on how the students’ volunteer efforts coincided with Dr. King’s message of unity. “Working together gives us a common mission and brings us together toward a common goal. It helps bring unity,” he said. “I think service also helps us appreciate the community we live in, and it gives us a new perspective. It’s also a matter of seeking to die to self, seeking to get yourself out of your comfort zone and just go out and do something for other people. It helps us realize that the world is not just about ourselves. We can serve other people.”

Dr. King was a husband, father, and preacher who is most remembered for leading peaceful protest campaigns to spur on social change via desegregation and equality of opportunity for Black Americans across all facets of life. His message emphasized freedom and justice for all, drawing from the teachings of the Bible, Mahatma Gandhi, and others. A proficient orator who stood courageous amid threats and violence against him and his family, Dr. King inspired the United States and others around the world.

Cumberlands students serve the community throughout the year at various events, including Shoes 4 the Soul, and through ministries like Appalachian Ministries and Mountain Outreach. To learn more about Cumberlands’ service opportunities, visit