Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s belief that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” on Sunday, Jan. 16, local groups will join forces to put his teaching into action in the third annual MLK Day of Service.
The event is cosponsored by the towns of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, the multi-denominational Ministerium of the two towns, the JCC of Central New Jersey, the YMCA, Patch.com, and other local groups. Last year, more than 40 organizations and over 500 volunteers came together to participate in a range of activities — to help the needy, comfort the aged, or care for the environment.
This year, 25 years after the establishment of the holiday in King’s honor, the organizers are hoping for more this year. According to their press release, they have taken to heart King’s line: “Life’s most urgent and persistent question is: What are you doing for others?” — and hope others do the same.
Michelle Shapiro Abraham, the education director of Temple Sholom in Fanwood, is cochairing the MLK Day task force. She said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring our community together. Not only will every member of the family learn the importance of giving back, but they’ll also discover all the wonderful volunteer organizations at work in their community.”
The day’s activities begin at 10 a.m. with an opening program at the JCC in Scotch Plains and a “Musical Tribute to Martin Luther King.” JCC program director Mike Goldstein describes the Day of Service as a “day on” rather than a “day off.” He said he and the other organizers are working to create a “memorable and stirring” presentation they hope will inspire a day of “meaningful community service.”
The service projects begin right after the opening program and will take place between 11:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the JCC and at sites throughout Scotch Plains and Fanwood. They include creating get-well cards for cancer patients and Valentine’s Day cards for servicemen stationed abroad, baking apple pies for senior citizens, clearing paths at a nature center, and working at a Habitat for Humanity site.
Amanda Barnett, a member of the planning task force, said, “So many organizations in our community have created volunteer opportunities for the day, there truly is something for everyone.”
Though same-day registration will be available during the opening program, spaces in specific programs are limited and participants are urged to register in advance at www.spfmlkday.com.