CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of West Virginia University students, escorted by police and firefighters, went door-to-door in Charleston's West Side on Monday, offering free fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and door and window alarms that would alert residents of intruders.
Among them was Hope Bias, an immunology and microbiology major from Parkersburg, who had read about the recent initiatives targeting the historically crime-ridden neighborhood, and hopped on the chance to volunteer in the area.
"I'm very happy to be here and helping out with the revitalization as much as I can," Bias said. "It seems like it's all good work."
Bias' group, which focused on the Charleston police and fire departments' "Safe and Secure" program, was among about 100 WVU students who traveled to Charleston for a day of community service in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Students teamed up with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Goodwill and other organizations to help Charleston residents as part of the West Side Revive project, which aims to rebuild the impoverished community, reform its schools and curb drug-related crime.
"Despite all that, there's a spirit that's sweeping this community," Rev. Matthew Watts, leader of the revitalization project, told WVU volunteers at Grace Bible Church before they dispersed to their service sites.
Chelsea Sayta, a Pittsburgh resident studying social work at WVU, said looking out for the safety and security of others was the perfect way for her to celebrate MLK Day.
"This is what I love doing. This is what I want to do with my life," Sayta said. "So, I'm really glad I had the opportunity. I'm glad we're here."