MLK Jr. Commemoration Week crafting/upcycling event to serve local community

By Meghan McBrady | 1/11/17 8:33pm


GVL/Luke Holmes - The upcycling for our community event took place in the Kirkhof Center on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

by Luke Holmes / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Life’s most persistent question, stated Martin Luther King Jr., was, “What are you doing to help others?”

Highlighting King’s aim to engage and empower communities, one of the social justice activities for the MLK Jr. Commemoration Week at Grand Valley State University will be a crafting/upcycling event Monday, Jan. 16 in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Upcycling participants will take items, which would have been previously trashed and/or were found on campus, to be repurposed into items or crafts to better benefit the surrounding communities.

Yumiko Jakobcic, the campus sustainability coordinator in GVSU’s Office of Sustainability Practices in charge of the upcycling event, said she is excited that the project could tie into King’s goal of serving and educating a community.

“What we are creating is matching a need in the community,” she said. "So that kind of ties into MLK Jr.’s idea of a beloved community and helping our community partners.”

Luke Holmes | Grand Valley Lanthorn

GVL/Luke Holmes - The upcycling for our community event took place in the Kirkhof Center on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

Several crafts will be made at the upcycling event, such as decorating children’s food baskets, making seed bombs and creating reusable grocery bags.

The seed bombs, Jakobcic said, are a new craft for this event, which mixes seeds, clay and compost to germinate into balls which can be planted in or outside an individual’s home.

“We are doing a lot of native wildflower seeds so that it will help the pollinators and just does a lot to restore ecosystems,” she said.

The only craft that follows the upcycling guidelines, Jakobcic said, is the reusable grocery bags, which are made from shirts found in the Fieldhouse and from the lost and found.

While the shirts are still in good shape, she said, they need to be refurbished in the armpit region in order to use them for the upcycling project.

GVSU is partnering with the Community Action House, a nonprofit serving the Holland community by providing families with food, clothing and shelter, to hold the upcycling event. The refurbished shirts will ultimately benefit the organization’s food pantry, Jakobcic said.

“They were saying that they really couldn’t afford to get reusable grocery bags for their guests, so they were giving out tons and tons of plastic bags,” she said. “So this is a wonderful for way for us to use those t-shirts that needed to be used and to also prevent so many plastic bags from being used.”

Bobby Springer, the associate director of GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, also stressed how the crafting/upcycling event benefits the surrounding communities and fits within King’s ideals.

“I’m giving up my time to do something that’s fun, where I get the chance to (have) dialogue and communicate with other people who are doing this experience,” he said. “That particular item will then be used in the community to better someone else’s life just by giving up my time, to help with the cause, that can help someone else.

“It takes all of us to make something happen. Whether it is five, 20, 100 or 200, whatever number that is, it takes a community to make something happen and that’s why we are reaching out to the community at large to come out and participate and make a difference here at Grand Valley.”

For more information about the MLK Jr. Commemoration Week interactive events and discussions, visit

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