More than 65,000 people participated in the 14th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service Jan. 19 at the Liacouras Center. Each year, the event keeps Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of volunteerism alive through some 900 community service projects across the region.
The event marked the beginning of MLK365, a program established to promote the idea of year-round community service.
This event is an opportunity for people to embrace King’s message of turning concerns into citizen action, said Todd Bernstein, founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service.
“The goal is to turn one day into a lifetime of service,” he said.
“We are proud and honored to begin our year-long celebration of Temple University’s 125th anniversary by hosting the 14th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service,” President Ann Weaver Hart said.
“Community engagement is one of the fundamental principles for Temple,” Hart said, according to a press release. “We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.”
This year, other community service projects at Temple include YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, HOPE worldwide and One Day at a Time.
“Target is proud to support the 14th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service,” Target Community Relations President Laysha Ward said in a press release. “As a company, we are dedicated to supporting and practicing Dr. King’s values of equality, respect and service and continue to honor his memory through volunteerism and community giving.”
Local businesses and city government alike supported the day of service.
Target sponsored a Kid’s Carnival where some activities included making an “I have a dream” mobile, science demonstrations and skits about King and civil rights.
The City Commissioner’s office encouraged future voters by teaching them to exercise their responsibilities of citizenship through voting booth demonstrations.
Wachovia and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program also worked with children, leading them in a civil rights coloring project.
In addition to these programs and events, AmeriChoice and United Healthcare sponsored a health and wellness fair, while the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com teamed up to present the Digital Service Fellows AmeriCorps Program with refurbished computers. Sunoco, in partnership with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, sponsored blanket, coat and food drives.
Crystal Baker, a member of Partners in Equality and a judge in the Martin’s Big Words Essay Contest, said the contest received more than 1,000 submissions about how King’s words are relevant today.
“Our goal is to provide information about volunteering for the Germantown Deaf Ministry Fellowship,” said Rosalind McKelvey, a Germantown Deaf Ministry Fellowship advocate and interpreter. “By providing access to basic signing, we are broading connections between cultures.”
Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.