Thousands across the nation will join together on Monday, January 21, for the 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In 1994 congress designated MLK Day as a National Day of Service as a way of honoring the legacy of the slain civil rights leader. UJA-Federation of New York’s MLK Day of Service, Time for Good, will provide an opportunity for more than 3,000 New Yorkers across Westchester, Long Island and the five boroughs to participate in more than 20 service projects in memory of Dr. King. Volunteers will give back in meaningful ways such as packing meals, revitalizing community spaces, engaging in social advocacy and other projects.
In Westchester county over 650 people are expected to participate in four different events around the county.
At the JCC of Mid-Westchester, 999 Wilmot Road in Scarsdale, 9:30-10:30 a.m., volunteers will pack food bags to benefit the food pantry at the Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) Mary J. Blige Center in Yonkers and include written messages of encouragement.
Westchester Reform Temple, 255 Mamaroneck Avenue in Scarsdale is the location for teen volunteers in grades 8-12 to sort and pack humanitarian supplies, provided by teen-run collection drives, and prepare shipments to be sent directly to the victims of recent hurricanes. J-Teen Leadership, a program of UJA, will be spearheading this Westchester-wide interfaith teen volunteer event with AFYA Foundation, a medical supply recovery organization. The program will run from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Blizzard Boxes, or emergency kits consisting of non-perishable foods that make up a complete meal, will be packed by volunteers of all ages, at the Shames JCC on the Hudson, 371 S. Broadway, Tarrytown, New York, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Note cards will be written, decorated and included in the boxes. The kits will be distributed to local senior centers and food pantries to be used in the event of a winter weather emergency.
Westchester Hebrew High School students will decorate and fill duffel bags, “Sweet Cases,” for local children in foster care, who are often placed in short-term housing situations.
So that people can choose the volunteer opportunity that best utilizes their interests and skills, volunteers are asked to register online at www.timeforgood.org/mlk-day.
The Riverdale Y is rallying helping hands of all ages for six different organizations that help local and distant disadvantaged communities.
Part of the Solution. This initiative provides support for people in poverty. Volunteers will sort clothing, cook and serve food, receive pantry supplies and more.
Rise Against Hunger. Volunteers will work in an assembly line to pack 10,000 meals for international distribution. Meals are provided to impoverished children around the world so that they can go to school.
The Commission on Human Rights. A workshop will be conducted for teens to explore the ways young people can help combat discrimination. Participants will learn about human rights law and come to appreciate diverse communities.
Bronx Jewish Community Council. Volunteers will help package raw ingredients for a complete meal of soup in a mason jar. Low-income Bronx residents will be the beneficiaries.
Israel American Council. Volunteers of all ages will craft bird feeders and grass heads to support the environment in honor of Tu B’Shevat—the Jewish New Year of the Trees.
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. Learning about the importance of an equitable distribution of economic, cultural and political power, volunteers will assemble care baskets for New Yorkers without health care and home care.
Rabbi Joseph Robinson, director of community engagement at the Y, who is spearheading the program said, “Reverend King said it best—‘Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.’” Rabbi Robinson quoted Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falls and there isn’t another to lift him up.”
By Yvette Finkelstein