HOUSTON – This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday marks the 25th anniversary of the national day of service that honors the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.
Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
People across the Houston area honored Dr. King’s legacy Monday by creating a positive impact in the community through volunteering.
Shell Oil’s MLK Day of Service at the Houston Food Bank
The Shell Oil Company and the Houston Food Bank welcomed individual and corporate volunteers to honor King’s life and work.
Volunteer activities included sorting donated products, packing “Backpack Buddy Sacks," and prepping and plating meals.
Approximately 800 volunteers were scheduled for the day, including groups from Shell, the Houston Astros, Johnson Controls, local schools and more.
Teach for America’s MLK Day of Service at the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church’s Palmer Hall
TFA members honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by volunteering in “Blessings in a Backpack," a 2-hour project in which they assembled food bags for children living with food insecurity.
Shoes of hope
Samaritan’s Feet and community volunteers gave new shoes and socks to children and families in need.
Volunteers spent 8-10 minutes with each recipient, welcoming and encouraging the children to believe in themselves, their dreams, to make healthy choices and stay in school.
According to Champions for Kids, shoes and socks are in the ‘Top 5 Items Needed’ by students in the school (Champions for Kids, 2015). The goal of the program is to provide a framework for community collaboration in preparing students materially, physically and spiritually for the school year and their future.
YMCA home repairs
Volunteers with the YMCA of Greater Houston spent Monday morning finishing repairs on the home of Angelina Rosales in the Second Ward. Rosales is the widow of a veteran.
Christian McGuinn, 13, said he volunteered because he wanted to do something greater in his community.
“Pretty much what I’d be doing all day after school is playing video games,” he said. " I wanna do more than that. I want to help my community."
Volunteers helped to paint and seal Roasales’ home among other things.
“Once finished the home will have been leveled, electrical and plumbing brought up to code, water heater installed, termite fumigated, floors repaired, and siding installed, caulked and painted,” the group wrote in a press release.
Youth Achieving through Service and Sports’ MLK Day of Service at Sand Canyon Park
Harris County Precinct 3 Constable’s deputies and YASS came together to beautify Sand Canyon Park, a new gated 23-acre park with several amenities suited for kids of all ages and occasions. The community service project was open to K-20 students (elementary to graduate) and their families.
MLK Day of Service helps flood victim in Houston’s Fifth Ward
More than 40 volunteers worked together to prevent yard flooding at Theresa Sidney’s home. Sidney’s home was damaged by more than three feet of water during Hurricane Harvey. The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation helped repair the interior of the home. On Monday they returned with architects and volunteers to add new gutters, downspouts and a new drainage system in the yard.
“We wanted to do something that was a service project because we know that’s what MLK was about,” said Harvey Clemons with Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. “And the fact that we have everybody coming in from all walks of life bringing this project to fruition that means a whole bunch.”
Sidney said she’s grateful volunteers took time out of their day to make it happen.