Throughout the state on Monday, students and professionals rolled up their sleeves to volunteer at needy organizations as they took part in the MLK Day of Service.
While the Martin Luther King Day is officially a holiday, Sanford students showed up at school early to catch buses that transported them to food and clothing banks, the VA Hospital, a cemetery, and the USO Delaware.
Fifteen high school students traveled to Dover, where they cleaned a USO warehouse facility, stocked food items, and assembled 130 care packages for deploying Service members. USO Delaware warehouse manager Bill Flanders was appreciative Sanford traveled downstate to lend a hand and said the effort by the students would keep the USO Delaware fully supplied through March.
Some middle schoolers raked leaves and picked up blowing debris at Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington. Nearby other Sanford students got some on-the-job training repairing bikes. Sophomore Ryan Russell worked in his family’s junk yard for a few years and gave helpful advice to the six other Sanford students who repaired or dismantled bikes at the Urban Bike Project. “I think today is very important to understand what it is to help somebody for free – out of the goodness of your heart,” he said. Sanford Sophomore John Pelesko said he was more than happy to show up to work on MLK Day. “I think it’s nice because we have so much, and it’s good to give back to the less fortunate.”
Sanford students from in all divisions grade visited a dozen non-profits in Hockessin, Newark, Wilmington and Dover. Freshman Alle Prezioso, who sorted apparel at the Clothing Bank of Delaware, hasn’t missed a Day of Service since she started at Sanford in the third grade. She said she and her classmates actually look forward to it. “We’re a family, so we all know we’re doing this for the community, and we all feel good about it.”
Incredibly, volunteers from another non-profit organization – Reading Assist Delaware – were also chipping in at the Clothing Bank.
Members the Delaware State Bar Association (DSBA) offered service opportunities around Wilmington, and lawyers could be found in a variety of locations and lending a hand where they felt the need. Hundreds of DSBA members volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, the Food Bank of Delaware, Wills for Seniors,, the Sunday Breakfast Mission, the Emmanuel Dining Room, Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.
About a dozen lawyers painted trim, hung light fixtures and worked on exterior construction projects at four Habitat for Humanity homes at 14th and Walnut Streets in Wilmington. Attorney Shelley A. Kinsella, with Elliott Greenleaf said she was moved by the fact that there was a shortage of volunteers to complete construction of four Habitat for Humanity homes in Wilmington, each of which had a family ready to move in. “It’s a blessing, really, to have the opportunity to go out and help others with a service project. I wanted to help another family move into a house,” said Kinsella.
Other law firms and organizations who sent volunteers to the Habitat for Humanity projects included Sidley Austin LLP; Womble Carlyle, Sandridge & Brice PLLP; White & Williams LLP; Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers LLP, Americorps, the Delaware Bankers Association, and attorneys with Family Court.
In reflecting on her work, Kinsella referred to a quote of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s: Faith is taking that first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. “Today we are literally building that staircase. So it couldn’t be a better day to do this kind of service,” she said.