A bit of serendipity played into the planning of Merrimack College’s first campus-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service event.
On Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Sakowich Campus Center’s Multipurpose Room, around 80 student volunteers built 20 bed frames for the Lynn, Mass.-based nonprofit A Bed for Every Child (ABEC).
The nonprofit provided the volunteers with wooden bed frame kits to hammer and screw together. In the future, ABEC will work with local social workers, schools and healthcare providers to find new homes for the twin beds.
Last year, Rileigh Armstrong, Merrimack’s campus minister for service and social justice, was tasked with finding a nonprofit to partner with for the event. It seemed like fate when she found a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the ABEC homepage.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” the quote reads.
“We knew it was a perfect fit,” Armstrong said.
A Bed for Every Child was founded in 2012 as an initiative of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. In 2023 more than 1,500 children received beds through the organization.
“This initiative is more than a team-building exercise,” said ABEC Director Tina Baptista. “It nurtures empathy and community spirit, creating a source of comfort and security for children on our waitlist. We are immensely grateful for (Merrimack’s) support, as each bed will be paired with a new mattress, making a tangible difference in the lives of children in need.”
This year’s event marks the first time Merrimack has organized a campus-wide service day for MLK Jr. Day. Peter Rojas, assistant dean of intercultural initiatives, said it’s been his goal since being hired four years ago to consistently host a day of service around MLK Day.
“This is an opportunity to bring more awareness for DEI on campus, cultivate new perspectives and bring more of a sense of unity at Merrimack,” Rojas said.