King Day of Service promotes volunteerism, community service

By Timothy Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service was under consideration for years. It gained traction during last year's presidential inauguration and continues this year.

"We've seen an increase in service interest and compassion," said Stephen Goldsmith, board chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal volunteer agency. "I think we'll see some pretty extraordinary activity."

During the Martin Luther King Day of Service, more than 200 volunteer opportunities will be available in the District, according to Serve DC, a city agency that promotes volunteerism. A citywide kickoff will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW.

Projects at the library include an outdoor soup kitchen, clothing distribution and several social service providers offering services at an expo. Inside the library, volunteers will assist in archiving and digitizing periodicals and books.

Some will use the holiday to honor King by paying tribute to organizations and individuals who regularly serve their communities.

The nonprofit United Planning Organization will honor education advocate Peggy Cooper Cafritz, restaurant owner Ben Ali, Vida Senior Services Center and Northeast Performing Arts Group at its 26th annual King breakfast Monday at the Marriott Wardman Park in Northwest Washington.

"We think they're shining stars," said Dana M. Jones, executive director of the organization.

Goldsmith said people should recognize the benefit of serving their communities. Best of all, he said, anyone can contribute.

"This is a great way for people to begin their service initiative," he said. "We're eager to have as many individuals participate, no matter where their station is in life. Service isn't just for the haves to do for the have-nots."

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