At least 400 University of Minnesota Morris students have participated in an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event in Morris over the past 10 years, said Argie Manolis, the community engagement coordinator at UMM.

This year's day of service is Monday, Jan. 21. The event is designed to practice Martin Luther King's model of service and to focus on his legacy as leader in civil rights. The day has also been declared a day of service.

"He had a true commitment to diversity that extended far beyond the issues of race; he was concerned with poverty or access to basic necessities, just to highlight a few," said Esmira Alieva, a student coordinator for the event.

Manolis said the Day of Service has been a way to engage students in the community. Because the community is invited to participate in the event, students and residents may work side-by-side in the kitchen preparing the meal or in any service project planned for the day, Manolis said.

Over the years, students have commented about the positive experience they had in the event, Manolis said.

"It means a great deal because it is an opportunity to highlight the importance of accepting others and the importance of relationships, and these relationships can help us overcome the differences that divide communities," Alieva said in her email. "I believe that we need be reminded more about what unites us, and less of what divides us and this is a beautiful opportunity for this to occur in our community."

Manolis said students and community residents have cooperated in projects such as working with students at Morris Area Schools. Because one of the goals is to teach and remind participates about King, the schools have been a good place for service work, Manolis said.

For some UMM students, the service education piece is the first time they've been in Morris Area Schools, she said. Those students frequently share about the welcoming and positive experience they had, Manolis said.

The Day of Service starts with registration at 12:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21 at Faith Lutheran Church. . Service programs that include working with children (no school at Morris Area that day) and community meal preparation start at 1 p.m. The annual march is slated for 4:30 to 5 p.m. The community meal starts at 5 p.m. The program is from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The meal will be served until 7 p.m. All events are at Faith Lutheran Church.

Manolis said volunteers can help with the afternoon service project, participate in the march and can even read quotes from King during the program. The meal and 6 p.m. program are also open to the community.