News / USA

National Day of Service Honors Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Chris Simkins
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in Washington to witness President Barack Obama's second inauguration. The president will be publicly sworn in on Monday, the national holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The inauguration's events begin with a National Day of Service on Saturday January 19 honoring the legacy of the late civil rights leader. President Obama is asking people to participate in projects that serve their communities.

Stephanie Garlick is fighting hunger. She's volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, doing what she can to help the less fortunate.  

"There is so much depression, and so many people are struggling with hard economic times and other issues, and giving of yourself just a little bit of time helping other people really lifts your spirit," Garlick said.

Stephanie is one of 18,000 volunteers who give their time so the organization can distribute food to 500,000 children, seniors and families with single parents. Volunteers help save the agency more than $2 million in operating costs a year.

"We work with people every single day of the week whether it is sorting of food that comes in donations that is where we work with most of our volunteers," said. Matt Crawford, who directs the volunteers.

To mark the federal holiday honoring the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, President Obama is asking Americans to participate in service projects.

Before he was assassinated in 1968, Dr. King was leading what he called the "Poor People's Campaign,"  an effort to alleviate poverty and hunger across the country.

"I thank President Obama for his call, and we join proudly in that call. But we absolutely need individuals and civil society to join in the fight because it's a big problem and really when we all pull together that is when we are most likely to be able to end hunger," said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority are doing what they can to help people and communities in need. For the last century the 260,000 member public service sorority and the nation's largest African American women's organization has been involved in countless service projects. Francine Blake from Ohio says community service is a lifetime commitment for this sorority.

"We serve the community not just on the local level, not just on the national level, but on the international level. We have now given scholarships to millions of young ladies to go to school and also young men," Blake said.

The sorority will be serving others on the MLK holiday.  

Public service organizations hope a national day of service will encourage more people to volunteer in community projects throughout the year.

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