Martin Luther King’s memory lives on in Africana Donation Drive

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By Paul Sell
Staff Reporter
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During the difficult times of our lives, it is important to remember the words of those who faced hardship and adversity. “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”The EWU Africana Education Program lives up to these famous words every year as they conduct their annual School Supply Drive. In honor of King, this supply drive helps grade school students throughout Cheney complete their education.

“This donation drive helps show what our program can do to help out the community at large,” said Lynn Burks-Herres of the EWU Africana Program.

The supply drive began in 2004 when the director of Africana studies, Dr. Nancy Nelson, started building something that King had inspired with his famous “I have a dream” speech. Because of the overwhelming responses Nelson received, Africana studies has held this drive every year.

“What we get does matter, and we pass it on to those who need it,” said Burks-Herres.

The items donated will be distributed by Cheney Outreach, a local center that provides aid and assistance. In previous drives, these donations have given Outreach enough supplies to last the whole year.

While there are currently two large cabinets filled with school supplies from last year’s donation drive, employee Sally Shamp considers this a low amount compared to what Outreach normally has throughout the year.

Shamp said on working with Africana studies, “They give generously, and the timing is perfect for back to school.”

Last year, Cheney Outreach delivered over 150 backpacks full of school supplies to students around the area. The Africana Education Program is hoping for an even bigger turnout this year than in previous ones.

The motto for the donation drive is “A day on, not a day off.” Burks-Herres believes this motto is used to remind students what King stood for.

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny,” said King. “They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

EWU Africana education professor Scott Finnie believes that this donation drive has turned a holiday into a practical change day.

“This day helps young people with education, and education is key,” said Finnie. “This drive is putting Dr. King’s words into action.”

Cheney Outreach Director Carol Beason continues to write letters to Africana studies about their contributions and what it means to them.

“Your support enables Outreach to provide ongoing assistance to our clients, especially in these difficult times,” writes Beason.

The last day to donate school supplies is Jan. 25. There are three collection bins located at the Africana Education Program in Monroe Hall 204, the EWU Bookstore and Cheney Owl Pharmacy.

Any number of school supplies will be greatly appreciated, including crayons, backpacks, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, pens, white notebook paper, boxes of tissues, spiral notebooks and new underclothing of various sizes.