WMU-Cooley Law School Black Law Students Association helped Kids' Food Basket for Martin Luther King Jr. Day



from WMU-Cooley Law School with notes by Cynthia Price

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus Black Law Students Association (BLSA) organized an event to decorate brown paper bags for Kids’ Food Basket in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and WMU-Cooley Law School’s Equal Access to Justice Day, January 15.

Several faculty, staff and BLSA members shared thoughts about Dr. King throughout the Equal Access to Justice Day program, including BLSA President Esko Peterson, who played the “I Have a Dream” speech for participants. He encouraged them to draw inspiration from it, and decorate the paper sacks with messages of hope, diversity and equality in line with the values espoused by Dr. King.

Kids’ Food Basket (KFB), which is a nonprofit organization attacking childhood hunger in West Michigan, delivers nearly 7,500 sack suppers to students each weekday. In addition to providing a nutritious meal, the brown paper sacks are decorated to help brighten each child's day.

Many law firms donate to and volunteer for KFB, which has been around since 2001. Its founder is Mary Kay Hoodhood, whose confinement to a wheelchair since a car accident in 1980 has not held her back from making a difference in her community — the KFB?website (www.kidsfoodbasket.org) refers to her as “unstoppable.”

In 2010, she won a Presidential Citizens Medal from President Barack Obama for her hard work on the organization. In his remarks, Obama said, "Physical limitations have never hindered... Hoodhood's determination to strengthen her community.”

Since its founding, KFB has expanded to serve the sack suppers to  students in Muskegon and Holland. As of 2015, KFB had served just under 1,022,000 meals.

During the Equal Access to Justice  Day program, WMU-Cooley BLSA member Osinachi Onukogu shared the story of a student she knows who receives sack suppers from Kids’ Food Basket. She said the student saves every bag and hangs them on a shelf as a proud display of the artwork.

Onukogu noted that one never knows how they may  impact a life.

Equal Access to Justice Day, as initiated by WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, suspends classes in observance of MLK Day. Students, faculty and staff devote the day to study, reflection and programs on the role of law and lawyers in protecting the right of everyone and assuring equal access to justice.

The Grand Rapids campus BLSA, along with all the chapters at WMU-Cooley campuses, is a local chapter of the National Black Law Students Association. The chapters strive to promote legal opportunities, support academics, encourage professionalism and retain African-American students for the legal field.

Black Law Students Association members later attended the Fountain Street Church performance “I Dream,” which brings to life the inspiring story of Dr. King in a performance that fuses opera with bluesy, jazzy and gospel-tinged rhythms.