SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Students at the University of Illinois Springfield may have had the day off from school, but many chose to spend the day giving back.

The program director for volunteer and civic engagement, Jill Hawkins-Wright, said hundreds of students signed up to help their community.  

"We had to cap it out at 100," Hawkins-Wright said. "So, we've got a full house here, ready to work and to serve."

Students at the university packed 30,000 meals, all of which will be donated to local families in need.

"Each meal will be distributed in the Springfield community," Hawkins-Wright said. "We have just over 10 organizations that we are working with that will be picking these meals up and distributing them through the community."

According to Hawkins-Wright, this is the best way students can remember Martin Luther King Jr.

"By students getting involved in the community and serving and giving back, I really can't think of a better way to live out the legacy of Dr. King," Hawkins-Wright said.

Brandon Winn, another student, said he's proud to be a part of a university that encourages people to help others.

"It's amazing. Being able to have the university give back, on a day like today, just showing how much the university cares and how much they respect the person and the day," Winn said. "It's just like a core value to want to give back, and I think that was one of the ideas he wanted to give people."

The meals will be donated to the Kumler Food Pantry, MERCY Communities, The Salvation Army, Helping Hands of Springfield, Inter City Mission, Grace Lutheran Food Pantry, Washington Street Mission, Asbury Children's Supper Hour, St. Paul AME Church, District 186's Feitschans Elementary School and the UIS Stars Food Pantry.  

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