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Bonner Scholars Program Conducts Service Project for MLK Day

By Lydia McGee
On February 1, 2018

Bonner representative helps students make fleece blankets.
Photo Courtesy of Caleb Zopp

On Tuesday, January 16, the Bonner Scholars Program honored Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a movie and a service project. 
About 40 students gathered to view the movie “The Glass Castle” and to make fleece blankets to donate to the Bluefield Union Mission, which offers “meals, groceries, utility assistance, clothing assistance and transportation for individuals in the surrounding areas,” according to their website. They provide 24/7 service to those with physical needs, and recently emphasized that they were providing shelter and support for those suffering from the recent weather conditions. 
Following the showing, Bonner representatives and students discussed the movie, emphasizing poverty and its effects on the surrounding area and the themes in the film. 
Hannah Jackson, the Bonner Scholars graduate assistant since fall 2016, coordinated the event. “Upon research of an MLK topic for our 2018 Day of Service, homelessness was an issue that we felt the need to address to our campus community. This year, we wanted to keep our project on campus and have a meaningful influence on students. Around the time we began planning, the news that The Bluefield Union Mission and Princeton Rescue Squad were opening their doors to people in need of a warm place during the cold winter days and nights was being mentioned on social media. That’s when we decided to help their efforts and make fleece blankets for the individuals that go to the facilities,” says Jackson. 
The decision to show the movie “The Glass Castle” with the project, Jackson states, was to “help the students understand homelessness with a true story with [West Virginia] ties.”
“The Glass Castle” starring Brie Larson and Naomi Watts tells the true story of Jeannette Walls, a young girl growing up in poverty with eccentric parents. Based on Walls’ autobiographical memoirs, the story provides a piercing and thought-provoking look into her family’s life in poverty and Walls’ struggle and determination to rise above her upbringing and make a brand-new life for herself. Often, Walls found herself caring for her siblings for days on end without food while her parents struggled with selfishness and alcoholism. While critics generally disliked the movie, the audience ratings show that it resonates with those from all walks of life.
“I was very excited to see that many people show up to our project, even with the snowy weather forecast,” says Jackson. “I believe the discussions and blanket-making went very smoothly with the number of students present.” 
In the past, Bonner Scholars have honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day with similar projects and outings, including taking students to Beckley cinemas to see the movie “Selma.” 
Jackson says, “My project last year was taking a small group of [Concord] students to the Wade Center in Bluefield to help in clean up and preparation efforts for their new year. We are currently working on future projects for the spring term including Earth Day activities and gown steaming for our May graduates.”
Every year, the Bonner Scholars Program grants approximately 80 students scholarships for their participation in completing service projects and in providing support to the surrounding community “in addition to participating in leadership and personal development activities,” says Jackson. “It is the goal of the program to develop experienced, knowledgeable and committed individuals who recognize the needs of our society and each person's responsibility to serve throughout his or her lifetime,” she states. 
Currently, the Bonner Scholars program is accepting applications for the spring. The deadline to apply for this scholarship and service opportunity is Feb. 2. For more information about what Bonner Scholars do and how to apply, visit 

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