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MLK National Day of Service and Celebration

February 27th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

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The weekend prior to and the actual Martin Luther King Day 2009 assumed a more urgent tone than in recent memory. Even though Congress in 1994 reframed the day as a national day of service, was anyone listening? Thanks, history, for the convergence of events to jolt Americans’ attention. Because of the banking industry meltdown many folks had not much more than time to give this year. To paraphrase our new President, Americans unclasped fists and grabbed rakes, shovels, pots and pans throughout the San Gabriel Valley on this MLK weekend.
At the urging of President-Elect Obama, service events were organized throughout country to commemorated MLK Day. In the San Gabriel Valley scores of volunteer opportunities criss-crossed with MLK and Inauguration celebrations. USAService.org offered a menu of choices from food and diaper drives, to church prayer meetings, to happy hour at the Hilton. The Armenian National Committees in Glendale, Altadena and La Crescenta organized canned food collections, the City of Rosemead received 50 trees planted by the Boys and Girls Club, the Red Cross offered Emergency Readiness Training. Kidspace Museum hosted A Day of Tolerance. At Jackie Robinson Park Monday was commemorated with a video of Dr. King’s Freedom March, music, speakers, food and community celebration.
Many service and celebration opportunities had light-hearted monikers alongside serious causes: Project Angel Food (let them eat cake?), an ongoing service organization which prepares and delivers food to men, women and children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. There were lemonade stands, one called The Lemonade Brigade, to raise money for charity. A nightclub held a Discobama event, and a local Obama supported hosted the Great American Melting Potluck celebration dinner.
Public park cleanup opportunities were available to volunteers, including the Live Oak Park detail in Temple City, and the Beautification of Arlington Garden at Pasadena Avenue and Arlington Drive in Pasadena.
At the three acre Arlington Garden volunteers were asked to bring gloves, long handled tools such as rakes and hoes, knee pads, and water bottles for their afternoon stint. Over 60 volunteers, including families with young children, arrived close to the 12PM call time for weeding, moving rocks, and raking leaves in the Mediterranean water-wise demonstration garden “rooms.” Most stayed a little over two hours and accomplished much-appreciated garden maintenance.
Ongoing volunteer opportunities are available for gardeners at Arlington Garden. Contact arlingtongarden@mac.com.

by Sandy Gillis

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