Vail students volunteer for MLK Day |

Vail students volunteer for MLK Day

VAIL, Colorado – Vail Mountain School students grabbed hammers, cooking utensils and the occasional Bingo card, and caught the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In 1994, Congress designated MLK Day as a national day of volunteer service, so that’s what the VMS students and staff did.

“Despite the weather, we were able to do meaningful work in honor of Dr. King where students had the opportunity to learn about the importance of service and thinking of others,” said Kate Blakslee, who coordinates community service efforts at Vail Mountain School.

While most schools, governments and some businesses were closed, Vail Mountain School students and faculty fanned out across the county and state to be part of service projects. And while they were there, they learned about issues related to civil rights and community, Blakslee said.

The upper school Philanthropy Service Group started learning their lessons as soon as they walked through the school doors, preparing lunches which were delivered to the Vail Police Department and Vail Fire Department as thanks for their service to others.

Second grade made cookies from scratch for Ski Patrol. First-graders made blankets that will be donated to Project Linus, a national organization that provides blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need.

Some upper school students stuck around the valley, and some headed to the Front Range volunteering at more than 15 sites.

One group spent the day working at Habitat for Humanity’s Fox Hollow site in Edwards, building picnic tables to help create an outdoor space for that community. Another group traveled to McCoy, where they served a meal at the local senior center and played bingo with the seniors.

In Denver, students worked at the Grant Street Reach Soup Kitchen serving meals to the homeless. At the Ronald McDonald house in Aurora, they cooked and served a meal to families staying at the house.

Across town, a group of six students and two faculty spent the day working in Longmont at the Colorado Horse Rescue, where they raked, cleaned tack and helped feed the horses.

Vail Mountain School junior Alec Girten was in a group that hit the backcountry to do maintenance on the trail to the Eisenman Hut, which is part of the Tenth Mountain Division Hut System.

“I’ve used the huts quite a bit,” Girten said. “I feel lucky to have them basically in my backyard and wanted to do something in return. It feels good to know that my work will help others who share my passion for the outdoors enjoy the system.”

The group worked the majority of the day, despite adverse weather, reattaching broken trail markers and clearing trees downed by recent windstorms.

“Every VMS student took part in honoring Dr. King on Monday through education, or service to others,” said Blakslee. “It is an important tradition that the students and faculty enjoy and look forward to each year.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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