Last week was our first week of classes for the spring semester. I met with my two composition classes to talk up Martin Luther King Day yesterday as a kind of service learning project. On Monday and Wednesday I thought I had at least 25 students who were on board to get on the bus to come to the Carnegie and help move boxes of books. By Friday when I had the sign up sheet go around in the first class only ONE student signed up, the others had better things to do. I didn’t even try to coerce the second class into coming to the Carnegie to lend their “back” support to moving old books and newspapers to another location. The night before I had told the board of directors for the historical society that I had 25 students, now I realized I had to eat crow.
Things certainly do change in 24 hours. I went to the coordinator of Martin Luther King Day and told her my dilemma. The one who was in charge of Service Learning was out sick with pneumonia and so I thought we would just do the best we can with 150 boxes full and figure out how to take the Christmas decorations down and assemble 75 more acid-free boxes. I had asked for TWO pickups to be there at the site because the neighboring library would be closed due to Martin Luther King Day. I didn’t know if the weather would cooperate because we had been suffering through negative teens and 20s. All looked lost until I talked to the main coordinator for MLK Day on Saturday night while I watched our university team lose their basketball game 80 to 50. Her son was playing on the team but she told me the head football coach was looking for something for his players to do on Monday.
Then I got an e-mail back that same night from the head football coach saying he would have THIRTY football players ready to work at 1:30 at the Carnegie. I was thrilled but I knew by Sunday morning that I needed to have many different projects going simultaneously on Monday. I didn’t know how many other people would show from the historical society but I alerted everyone on the Carnegie committee on Sunday saying: “All HANDS on deck!” I got about half showing up and three of my students showed up right at 9:00 a.m. Things moved fast with the small group of about ten people working. I had to cross things off the lists that I had made.
We were able to fill 75 assembled acid-free boxes and fill them with noting what each box contained. We added small books to the magazines to fill every possible square inch. I had the editor of the local daily newspaper come to take photos and write up a story, he was there right at 1:30. I showed him the upstairs and downstairs, especially all the boxes of books that were lined up ready to go out to the waiting pickup and trailer. We came back upstairs and the lobby area of our Carnegie was filled with all sizes of football players ready to work. I had them sign the different lists and some went right away to the museum with the Museum Director to move some heavy glass cases. I had another group go with our guy in charge of the pickup and trailer. Another group stayed upstairs where the Bose player was sounding out “December” by George Winston. The latter group I was in charge of making sure the floor was mopped and swept, the shelves were dusted and oil put on and generally staying out of the cookies and pop that were waiting for them after the work was through.
I am happy to say that in one and a half hours, we had 200 boxes moved of books to the other location 1/2 mile away and that there were NO injuries. There had been ice at first but the temps hovered around 32 degrees and it looked like a false spring day, though gloomy. I was thrilled that we got sooooo much accomplished in such a short time. I wrote a grateful e-mail to the head coach, I said told him the players were hard workers, polite and got much done for the good of the community. I hope we can have them again to help when we moves things around again. I’m glad only 20 of them showed up and NOT 30 because we had done so much in the morning that I am not sure what we would have done with ten more willing hands and strong backs.