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NH college students honor Dr. King with day of community service

GOFFSTOWN - College students statewide attended events marking Martin Luther King day, made possible by grants from Campus Compact for New Hampshire.

At St. Anselm College, members of AmeriCorps gathered hundreds of food items for the New Hampshire Food Bank following a celebration of King at the college's Institute of Politics.

Dan Heying, who helped organize the drive, said the food drive was an appropriate way to honor King.

"His vision was one where we can all engage in the community as equals," Heying said. "I think Dr. King would be happy to see people in all walks of life engaging the community."

Matt McDonald, a 2011 St. Anselm graduate who now works in its Office of Campus Ministry, agreed.

"The idea of Dr. King's that everyone can be great because everyone can serve is a perfect way to remember him," he said. "A lot of our focus is on student education - this gets us back to the roots of why we serve."

CCNH, a statewide consortium of college and university presidents, provided grants to other campuses as well, including Keene State University, Southern New Hampshire University and New Hampshire Technical Institute, to highlight the significance of Martin Luther King Day, raise awareness of community needs and address social issues such as racial equality, diversity, poverty and homelessness.

According to its website, the mission of the organization is to promote community service and civic responsibility throughout the academic student life goals of its members.

"We're committed to service and service learning," said Debby Scire, executive director of CCNH. "The food banks are a place where we knew we could have an impact."

Scire said community service programs increase college retention, and are an important way for students to see how what they are learning connects to the real world.

"It's really a different way of learning," she said.

"New Hampshire's colleges and universities are deliberate about educating students to be active and engaged citizens as well as knowledgeable community members, leaders and professionals," said James Birge, president of Franklin Pierce University and vice chair of CCNH.

"The MLK Day of Service underscores that all of this great work serves an even greater purpose - to create strong communities in which all people can thrive."

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