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HAMMONTON - Thousands of volunteers gathered at Stockton University locations on Jan. 16 to pitch in and lend a helping hand during the university’s 13th annual MLK Day of Service.

The spirit of community service was demonstrated through projects such as CPR training and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for local organizations.

“Dedication to service is one of Stockton’s founding missions — a shared passion that has grown the university’s Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service into the region’s largest such event,” said university President Harvey Kesselman. “Dr. King’s question: ‘What are you doing for others?’ is an integral part of the curriculum here. Our students gain valuable experience and also give back while working on community-based projects, and our faculty and staff offer their time and expertise to many groups and agencies, not only on MLK Day of Service, but all throughout the year.”

At Kramer Hall, the Falciani family of Hammonton meticulously worked on Valentines that will be delivered to residents at a Hammonton Nursing Home. “Everyone had the day off, and it’s nice to help out,” said Kevin Falciani.

Chloe and Sophie Angulo of Cherry Hill come out every year to make Valentines. Last year they competed to see who could make the most. This year, they put their focus into making the most creative cards. Some of their creations even included a pop-out heart.

Kramer Hall hosted four activities including CPR/AED training, Valentine card making, clerical work at Allies in Caring on Third Street and assistance in the organization of museum archives inside Hammonton Town Hall for the Noyes Museum of Art.

Saskia Schmidt, director of Education at the Noyes Museum, was grateful for the help as the museum attempts to shift their inventory from other sites. “It’s a lot of work, and we have a small staff. It’s wonderful to have all these volunteers helping out. It would take weeks to do this without them,” she said.

Peter Baratta of Brigantine works at Stockton and looks forward to the Day of Service every year. “It’s a great way to give back. It’s very organized, and I’m always glad to participate,” he said as he completed some filing.

The MLK Day of Service began with an opening ceremony on the main campus that was streamed live at the satellite locations. The Community Engagement Awards were presented during the ceremony including: Jaileen Gonzalez, undergraduate student recipient; Rona Whitehead, graduate student recipient; Alpha Phi Omega, student organization recipient; Dr. Christina Jackson, assistant professor, SOAN, SOBL, faculty recipient; and Joe Lizza, assistant director of Campus Center, staff recipient.

Volunteers helped out at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and the Hopeful Grounds Coffee Shop. At the Galloway campus, they made crafts and toys for Syrian children through the Narenj Tree Foundation, packed books for Books Without Borders, and wrote letters of support for the Write for Rights campaign. There were also workshops and discussions focusing on sustainable gardening, mental health, addiction, women’s rights and tax preparation.

Projects also were hosted in Weekstown, Manahawkin and Woodbine.

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