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Nonprofits encourage involvement on MLK Day of Service

The Commercial Dispatch

Organizations throughout the Golden Triangle are looking for volunteers to work on service projects on Martin Luther King National Day of Service on Jan. 16. 

Volunteer Starkville and United Way of Lowndes County representatives hope for hundreds of volunteers to complete service projects on a day that not only marks the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy, but calls for people to get engaged with nonprofits in their community. 

"It's encouraging people to get out and get involved," United Way of Lowndes County Director Danny Avery said. 

Leading up to the Day of Service and throughout the rest of January, Volunteer Starkville is already pushing a baby supply drive to coincide with the Day of Service. 

"We always do some type of a supply drive tie-in to MLK Day," Volunteer Starkville Executive Director Jamey Bachman said. "The baby supply drive really came because of a partnership with Starkville Rotary Club. ...We came up with the idea of doing the baby supply drive to benefit Emerson Family Resource Center. They provide support to a lot of teenage mothers that are expecting and don't really have all the supplies they need for their babies." 

The center is asking for everything from blankets, towels, baby wash and diapers to cribs, strollers, bassinets and car seats -- supplies which they can drop off at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership office, the Mississippi State University Maroon Volunteer Center or the Emerson Family Resource Center through Jan. 31. 

 

MLK Day events 

Alongside the drive will be events like the Night of Unity discussion and dinner at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 5 p.m. Jan. 15 and the Oktibbeha County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People March and Rally at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16. 

The biggest event is the Unity Breakfast and Community Volunteer Fair in the Mill at MSU Conference Center beginning at 7 a.m. Jan. 16, Bachman said. She and the rest of Volunteer Starkville has partnered with MSU and the Maroon Volunteer Center to organize the event, which will bring volunteers together for a breakfast before sending them out to complete service projects throughout the Golden Triangle. 

More than 600 people attended the Unity Breakfast last year with 450 volunteering for service projects, Bachman said. She hopes to see more than 500 volunteers this year. 

"Nonprofits will be set up at the meal between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. so people that came to the breakfast can go and learn more," Bachman said. "If they didn't sign up (to) volunteer on Monday, this is an opportunity for them to meet some of the local nonprofits and maybe find a way to volunteer in the new year." 

Following the breakfast, volunteers will help sort donations at local thrift stores, clean up facilities at after school programs or complete service projects at the Noxubee County Refuge or Camp Seminole, Bachman said. 

In Columbus, United Way of Lowndes County has partnered with the city, Lowndes County, the Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi University for Women and the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau for another unity breakfast at the Trotter Convention Center at 8 a.m. on Jan. 16. Judge Carlton Reeves of the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi, the second African American to serve on the federal judiciary in the state, will speak. 

Like the unity breakfast in Starkville, attendees will have a chance to learn about local nonprofits they can get involved with in the coming year, Avery said. 

"At the Fifth Street entrance to the Trotter, we're going to have a nonprofit agency fair," he said. "They're all going to be set up there so people can see where they are and encourage people to engage with them as volunteers in an effort to give back in the community." 

At 9 a.m., volunteers will pack 1,000 sack lunches for Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen to distribute to needy people in the community on days when the soup kitchen is closed, Avery said. He's not looking for a specific number of volunteers but won't turn anyone away. 

"If we had 200 volunteers, each one would only have to do five lunches," he said. "If we have 100, we'll have to do 10 each. But that's still not too bad." 

For more information on events in Starkville or to register to for service projects, go to http://www.volunteerstarkville.org/service-days-events/martin-luther-king-jr-day/. To register to volunteer at the Unity Breakfast in Columbus, go to http://www.muw.edu/mlk.

 

By Isabelle Altman

January 6, 2017 10:06:39 AM

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