Students chose to use the day off as a way to give back to the community through opportunities organized by the college.
Volunteers donated time and physical strength to the Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center by helping clear a field and haul water.
Three Cleveland State students joined by family members and Cleveland State vice president of student services Michael Stokes spent the morning dragging brush and cutting vegetation in the field. They said the work was good exercise.
When completely cleared, the 4-acre field will serve as a spot for the horseback-riding program’s horses to graze, program coordinator Denise Wright said. It will also allow the program to increase the number of horses it has. Wright said this is important because the program is expanding to offer a “Horses for Heroes” therapeutic program to veterans.
Cleveland State student Ruth Ben-Judah said she was excited about volunteering at the center, and enjoyed the experience. She said the group was able to accomplish a lot.
Students and family members had only found out that morning where they would be volunteering.
“I was actually pretty excited. I brought my little sisters to volunteer with us today, and I knew it would be something they’d enjoy,” student Lorelei Odom said.
Wright said the group made good progress on a project the center had been working on whenever members could work. Without service-learning groups that come to help out on big projects, the center would not be able to complete them, Wright said. Wright said her first experience with the therapeutic riding program had been through a service-learning project.
Some volunteers also helped instructors in the indoor arena with two sessions being held that day.
Stokes said he knew Wednesday that he had been assigned to the Tri-State group.
“It’s been a great experience,” Stokes said. “The students who are here worked really hard.”
Volunteers also filled horse water buckets and outdoor water tanks. Wright said the horses actually drink more water in winter than in the summer.
Stokes said this was the first year for the college to have organized volunteer projects on MLK Jr. Day.
Locations for students to volunteer were selected by Cleveland State director of special programs Traci Wright in cooperation with the college’s service-learning department. Approximately 32 students and relatives participated in the college’s volunteer activities.
Other planned locations included McMinn Family YMCA, McMinn Senior Citizen Center, Amedisys Hospice, Keep Monroe County Beautiful and Habitat for Humanity.
Each team was given $50 toward any supplies to complete needed projects. Stokes said the team did not need any equipment to volunteer at Tri-State so it was donated to another group that needed it.