Food & Warmth – MLK Day of Service Recap

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The Martin Luther King Jr National Day of Service is a call for people to volunteer some free time and energy to give back. The Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps members chose from a variety of projects across the state to help their fellow man and communities. Below, two members recount their MLK National Day of Service experiences.

Helping to Feed

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Volunteers at the Greater Lansing Food Bank

By Katie Burns

In tribute to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy, AmeriCorps members around the country completed a day of service in their communities this week. It was a time for us to give back to those in need, and perhaps to even reflect upon what we have. Personally I spent a lot of time selecting a project, because I wanted something that would really be meaningful to me. I didn’t want to just mark it off as another few hours toward my required 1700.

As I continued to search, I thought a lot about the issues closest to my heart, which coincidentally are the same ones that led me to pursue social work for a time after college. I have always been concerned about poverty and hunger, and my work showed me firsthand how devastating their effects can be. I later became an attorney and then an AmeriCorps member primarily because I wanted to help people provide adequately for their families.

With that thought in mind, I chose to volunteer at the Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB), which provides literally millions of pounds of food to 136 local kitchens, shelters and agencies in seven Michigan counties throughout the year. I helped sort and pack some of this donated food into large boxes, while working alongside other AmeriCorps members and community volunteers. Working as a team we went through over a dozen bins of various products, and I was amazed that we were able to get so much done in a relatively short time. More importantly, it was rewarding to know that the boxes I packed would ultimately end up feeding people in need.

Katie Burns is an AmeriCorps member at Elder Law of Michigan in Lansing, Michigan.

Keeping People Warm

By Vicki Newcomb

For our MLK Jr Day service project, I teamed up with fellow AmeriCorps members, Leondra Fair, LizMarie Colon and Crystal Elissetche to organize a coat drive. We spread the word that we were looking for donations of new or gently used coats and other warm clothes that would be donated to the West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center. For many of these refugees this was going to be their first year, not only in the United States, but also their first winter dealing with a Michigan winter. Since many of them have come from countries where they did not have the need for coats and warm clothes, we thought it would be nice to collect some of the essentials that anyone needs in order to cope with a brutal Michigan winter.

When it was all said and done, we ended up donating a total of 57 coats, 12 sweaters, 17 hats, 26 pairs of gloves, 3 scarves, 2 pairs of snow pants…and for good measure Leondra also donated 3 boxes of books. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my fellow AmeriCorps members on this service project, and we have already started planning our next service project where we plan to team up again to do a book and toy drive for the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital for our 9/11 service project.

Planning and/or volunteering service projects can be very rewarding. The satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others is rewarding. When you commit your time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel strongly about, the feeling of fulfillment can be endless. This is also the same reason why we all choose to serve as AmeriCorps members in our communities and those surrounding us.

Vicki Newcomb is an AmeriCorps member at MSU Extension – Ionia County in Ionia, Michigan.

This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.