Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 20, 2014
Everybody can be great... because anyone can serve.
Why do we serve on MLK Day?
During his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked tirelessly toward a dream of equality. He believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by uniting and taking action to make this country a better place to live. The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley works with community partners to: Strengthen Communities, Empower Individuals and Build Bridges.
This January 15th, 2013 marks our third year of MLK Day of Service programming with the Easton Area School District!
In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, the Volunteer Center coordinated two major projects, one at Jefferson Elementary School in Allentown and one involving all seven of the elementary schools in the Easton Area School District.
At Jefferson Elementary School, the Volunteer Center continued our annual 'Dream To Read' program with the Muhlenberg College Menís and Womenís Basketball teams. The college students visited nine classrooms at the elementary school to read to the children, discuss the life and legacy of Dr. King, and teach them about the importance of community service. In addition to the college students, State Representative Mike Schlossberg, Allentown Superintendent of Schools, Dr. C. Russell Mayo, and School Board Members Andrew J. Weiss and Dr. Ellen B. Bishop were in attendance. The students read a book called March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed The World written by Martinís sister, Christine King Farris. Then they discussed civil rights and equality issues of the past and present, including the Fair Pay Act. Students completed an on-site service project, creating placemats for Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County. These placemats depicted the civil rights issues that the students were most passionate about and they were delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients for MLK Day. To view pictures of this event, click here, and to see the Service Electric Cable coverage, follow this link
Additionally, the Volunteer Center is proud to have once again expanded our Martin Luther King Day program in the Easton Area School District. This year, we opened up the program to all students in the seven elementary schools, kindergarten through 4th grade. Parent volunteers and members of the Easton Area High School Key Club visited the classrooms and Mayor Sal Panto was able to join in on the fun at Paxinosa Elementary School. Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms read Martinís Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, while 2nd through 4th grade read March On! Volunteers and students discussed equality and civil rights issues, guided by a series of hypothetical questions. They also learned that in order to end discrimination, we, as a community, must stand up and take action. Students then created Equality Posters to be displayed throughout the schools, reminding everyone who sees them about the importance of civil rights and the work that still needs to be done.
In Easton, students also discussed the issue of hunger in the Lehigh Valley and brainstormed ways we can help those in our community who cannot afford enough food. This part of the project is in keeping with our EASD Seasons of Service program theme for the 2013 school year. In the fall, we ran an essay contest for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in order to introduce the issues to the students. For MLK Day, we asked them to brainstorm ways that they can make a difference. This spring, we will take the next step with a call to action by hosting a district-wide food drive. This marks our first Seasons of Service program with a local school district and we hope to expand this model to other districts in the future!
To finish up the program, students in Easton discussed the importance of community service and volunteerism. They also discussed our service men and women and the struggles that their families face. The students were asked to imagine what it would be like if their mom or dad went away to protect our freedom. Feeling empathetic, students created thank you cards for military children which will be distributed through Operation Purple, a non-profit organization which offers Summer Camps for military kids, Family Retreats, and Healing Adventures for wounded soldiers and their families.