Montgomery County residents personified the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through learning, crafts, donations and more at the as a part of the county-wide 2012 Day of Service. Other included the Bethesda North Marriott and Conference Center, WSSC’s offices in Silver Spring and Giant Food stores in Montgomery County.
In conjunction with the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, the GapBuster Learning Center—an education and leadership program for Montgomery County—hosted hundreds of volunteers of all ages, races and creeds, guiding them through a number of activities sponsored by local organizations.
Some volunteers made “I Have a Dream” catchers which could be donated to local nursing homes or taken home to remind them of Dr. King, while others like the Milofsky-Pinard family made “Sweet Thoughts” cards for local nursing homes.
“I took my daughter Sophie to the MLK Day in Rockville a few years ago, and we helped make peanut butter sandwiches for the hungry,” said Lisa Milofsky-Pinard. “It was really rewarding to see her making something that was not for her, but would make someone else happy.”
Other projects volunteers participated in included MLK-themed collage making, flower arranging, pencil holder-crafting and get well card construction. All projects created during the 2012 Day of Service will be donated to local organizations that help people in need, according to Dr. Yvette Butler, GapBusters’ founder and executive director.
“What a great turnout this is,” said Dr. Butler. “This year we have more organizations, hundreds more volunteers and ten more tables than last year. And with all that, we still ran out of some materials for projects,” she continued.
A number of other local service-oriented organizations welcomed the donation of physical goods. Silver Spring’s Asian American LEAD collected toiletries which were sorted and compiled into small packages for eventual donation to the Montgomery Coalition for the Homeless. “We generally do this drive at our offices, but this year we wanted to feel more a part of the community, so we joined in the MLK Day,” said Francine Gorres, the Maryland High School coordinator.
County Executive Isiah Leggett opened the event with a short speech, inspiring the assembled volunteers, which came from as far as East County, and as close as Blair High School. “We brought out the boys' junior varsity and varsity basketball squads to the MLK Day,” said PE teacher Damn Pigrom. “We try to take advantage of every opportunity to get them out and do community service and this is a great day to do it!”
One of the more active and vocal groups at the Civic Building were purple-bedecked members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, who were collecting coats, long-sleeve and polo shirts to donate to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.
While always happy to have volunteers on MLK Day, GapBusters took advantage of the attendance of many young people, looking to sign them up for their “Leadership in Training” program, which aims to help participants improve their presentation and critical-thinking skills and ultimately their academic success. “We’ve gotten a lot of great responses to the LIT program here today,” said program associate Jonathan Gibbs.
The 2013 Martin Luther King Day of Service will take place on January 21, 2013. Stay tuned to Patch for details.