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A day of giving: Houstonians gather to celebrate MLK Day

HOUSTON – On Monday, groups all around the Houston area took part in a national day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Students, faculty and staff at the University of Houston's downtown campus did a pre-spring cleaning, inside and out, at homes of senior citizens in Fifth Ward.

"They're just doing so many things that seniors are no longer able to do on their own and, of course, to hire help is expensive," said legendary performer Alice "Tweed" Smith, who said the help from UHD was a blessing.

Student Selana Garcia said it was important to give back.

"One way to serve our people is to actually go out, communicate with them," Garcia said.

In Fort Bend County, students came together for a service project for CPS families. They built beds for children, including who have never had a place of their own to lay their head.

"I feel bad for the kids who don't have anywhere to sleep so I wanted to come and help them so they have something to sleep in," said sixth-grader Shaylan Gifford.

Volunteer Houston, which matches volunteers with local nonprofit groups, spent the day at Meals on Wheels preparing breakfast bags and Valentine's Day cards for seniors.

The event kicks off a new Volunteer Houston initiative called "Register. Volunteer. Report."

"We're encouraging Houstonians and Harris County residents to register as a volunteer, go out and volunteer and then, even more importantly, make sure that they report their volunteer hours as that's critical for grant funding, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funding for all of our nonprofit agencies as well as Harris County and the city of Houston," said Eleanor Gates of Volunteer Houston.

Interfaith Ministries held its third annual MLK Youth Day of Service. More than 125 students of different backgrounds and faiths took time to get to know each other as they created care packages for Houston’s refugee community.