TERRE HAUTE —
Braving the cold and a biting wind Monday afternoon, Whitney Maas and Maria Verduzco went door-to-door along the avenues in Terre Haute with fire safety tip fliers for residents.
The Indiana State University freshmen placed the information on door knobs as part of the Martin Luther King Day of Service, which is sponsored by ISU’s Center for Community Engagement.
About 400 volunteers were expected to fan out across Terre Haute, donating their time to benefit about 16 community agencies.
Maas and Verduzco were among several students who went to three neighborhoods distributing the door hangers on behalf of the American Red Cross, Wabash Valley Chapter.
“It’s going good. It’s a little cold,” Maas said, as she and Verduzco walked a neighborhood near 14th Street and Fifth Avenue.
“We like to help out the community,” Maas said. Verduzco added, “It makes me feel involved.”
A Red Cross volunteer in a Ford Explorer was nearby, if the volunteers needed more fliers, warmth or some water.
Before going to the various agencies, volunteers gathered at ISU’s Dede I, where they received lunch and also heard a short program.
Nancy Rogers, ISU associate vice president for community engagement, told the volunteers, “I can’t think of a better way to honor King than through service.”
Volunteers included ISU students as well as community partners in the ISU Americorps program, said Heather Miklozek, associate director of the ISU Center for Community Engagement.
Volunteers would be involved in “lots of spring cleanup-type things,” she said. The MLK Day of Service is a national event, often described as “a day on, not a day off.”
One of ISU’s missions is service to the community, Miklozek said. “We’re trying to embrace that on a day when students don’t have class.”
Other volunteers gathered at Gary’s Place, a Christian safe house for teen-age girls with or without children; it is part of Light House Mission.
Gary’s Place recently moved to South 13th Street in a building that used to house Booker T. Washington High School. The program provides housing, basic needs, case management and life skills, as well as Bible studies, said Anastasia Fritz, director of Gary’s Place.
It currently has four residents but can house up to 20.
Fritz had her volunteers organize closets, disinfect toys and sort clothing donations, among other tasks. “It’s very helpful,” she said.
Among the volunteers were members of Sisters, Too. The ISU student organization has assisted at Gary’s Place before, said the group’s president Kiara Johnson.
“It’s always been a favorite of ours … to come help the girls out,” Johnson said. It goes along with what the group stands for, which includes “uplifting women,” she said.
Nearby, ISU freshman Elizabeth Tuttle worked in a family room, where she helped clean and organize toys. She is a 21st Century Scholar and also involved with an international service organization.
Tuttle said she didn’t know about Gary’s Place before, “but I’m glad I had the opportunity to come here.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@