When the Storm Lake community gathers to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday, it will be more than a celebration - it will also be a call to action.
"When we look at this man's faith and history, we realize how he caused people to rise up, take a stand and share their hope," says Buena Vista University chaplain Ken Meissner. "There is need in our community still today, and we hope people can rally around these ideals."
Storm Lake Community Schools, CommUnity Education, and BVU will come together to celebrate the birthday of Dr. King on Friday, Jan. 16, at 5 p. m. at Storm Lake South Elementary School, 310 Cayuga St.
The event will include performances from the Storm Lake High School Choir, poetry by the Elementary Tornado Learning Academy, African stilt dancing, choral readings from the Middle School Tornado Learning Club, Nepali and Indian dances, and speeches by high school and university students' dreams for tomorrow. Volunteers from the community and BVU have been working with Storm Lake students in preparation for the event since early December.
"Instead of bringing in an outside speaker, we decided to share the voices of our own community, from the children to college students," Meissner said.
The public is invited, free of charge. A light supper will be provided following the celebration. T-shirts will be given to the first 140 students attending.
The presenters hope that the event will inspire people to volunteer on the King Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 19th - if not this year, in years to come.
"The idea was thrown out a couple of years ago, and it has not really yet been utilized in Storm Lake. We have this day off, let's make it a day of service we can rally around and go volunteer. Our schools, churches and social agencies in this community are very stressed, and we could show them support on this Day of Service," the chaplain said.
President-elect Obama has pledged himself to the service day. A short video on the Day of Service concept will be shared at the celebration. One town used the day to assemble a prefabricated building which was sent to New Orleans to serve flood victims.
The organizers of the Storm Lake event hope for a good turnout to share in the talents of the young people of the community being showcased. According to Meissner, the ideals of Dr. King remain alive in the youth of Storm Lake.
"Just think of the dreams that people have - and not just black folks, but all folks. King made us challenge the normal ways of doing things, and open doors for people who do not have power. When I look at the African American students on our campus today and the powerful voice they have, I realize how much has changed even in the years since I was a student," Meissner said.
* For more information on the celebration, contact Ashley Farmer, BVU Director of Community Service, at (712) 749-2443 or BVU chaplain Ken Meissner at (712) 249 - 2111. For more information on the national Day of Service, see www.mlkday.gov online.