by Brie Sosnov
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the region celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a Day of Service. It’s a way to commemorate King and his life teachings by turning a day off from work into a “day on” in community service.
Every year, students from around Northwest Philadelphia join that “day on” by participating in dozens of projects sponsored by their schools
Norwood Fontbonne will celebrate MLK Day early on Friday, Jan.18. The students will assemble toiletry bags for St. Johns Hospice, a homeless ministry in Philadelphia. Local hotels and NFA families have funded the project.
Once the toiletry bags are completed, NFA will bring the day to a close with a school-wide prayer service in which they will sing a Catholic hymn and the sixth-grade choir will lead the song Peace is Flowing.
There will be a video and slideshow about King, followed by a scripture reading and prayers. To conclude the day, one student from each grade, first through eighth, will reflect on their fall service learning experience.
Germantown Friends has organized numerous activities both on and off campus in honor of King.
GFS volunteers will make food for the Holsey Temple Feeding Ministry, Whosoever Gospel Mission and the Covenant House, a local homeless shelter for teens. The volunteers will organize supplies donated to families who are rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Sandy and among a variety of other on campus service activities.
The day will also include off-campus activities such as cleaning Waring House, an old Victorian home that community organizers hope to revive as a community center.
Following the service activities and a luncheon hosted by the Multicultural Parents Alliance, will be the Bayard Rustin Centennial Celebration, a community gathering hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Parents and Friends Alliance and the Multicultural Parents Alliance. This gathering is a teach-in and discussion about the life of Bayard Rustin, who was a close advisor to King. Rustin was an openly gay African American social justice activist and a member of the Religious Society of Friends.
As part of the focus on Rustin, students wil listen to excerpts from the children’s book “We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin” and watch parts of the film “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.”
Penn Charter has collected sports equipment, used books and learning materials to donate to the new Police Athletic League (PAL) Lighthouse Children’s center in North Philadelphia. PAL provides free after-school and summer programs for children at 26 neighborhood centers.
On MLK Day preschool, Kindergarten and first-grade students will sort and count the donated items. First-and second-grade students will paint canvas murals for PAL on campus, while fourth-and fifth-grade students will help build a library at Lighthouse PAL. Students in Middle and Upper School have their choice among a few service activities both on and off campus.
They will clean the grounds at St. James School in Allegheny West, clean out the Manayunk Tow Path with Ivy Ridge Green, and/or help to staff the Matt Miller Memorial Basketball Tournament at Penn Charter.
The entire student body at SCH will participate in service activities, making MLK Day a “day on.” Upper School students will paint murals, visit retirement home residents, create Valentines with orphaned children, and organize canned food donation among other projects.
Lower School girls will cook meals and desserts for Aid for Friends and assemble breakfast bags and bowls of soup for Meals on Wheels. Lower School boys will also serve meals on wheels as well as Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry.
Middle School girls will divide by grade to participate in different service projects. Middle School boys will clean and make improvements to facilities at Midtown Parish United Methodist Church, clean up Valley Forge National Park, and sort and shelve books at Philadelphia Reads.