“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr. told a crowd in Montgomery, Alabama on August 11, 1957. Almost fifty-six years later, over 600 people responded to this question by volunteering at the MLK Day of Service on January 21, 2013. Drawing on Dr. King’s vision of a just and inclusive society, this event raised awareness about the local refugee community in Clarkston while benefiting refugee families in concrete, practical ways.
Before the activities began, local leaders from different faith communities, including the Rev. Floyd R. Blair, President/CEO of LSG, addressed the volunteers. In a particularly powerful speech, Anne Eddins recounted the story of her cousin, a man who defied the conventions of his family and society to work at a voter-registration drive during the civil-rights period.
After listening to these testimonies, 277 of the more than 600 volunteers went to perform one of several projects for LSG, including packing 3,000 pounds of rice into family-size bags for newly arrived refugee families and sorting pots and pans into “kitchen kits.” With the 3,000 pounds of rice, LSG will be able to provide each resettled family in the next six months with enough rice to sustain them until they qualify for food stamps. What a way to kick off the New Year!
Other volunteers at the day of service distributed and read books to children and cleaned up the Clarkston neighborhoods. Although the event was co-sponsored by Lutheran Services of Georgia, many participants were not Lutheran: groups came from Presbyterian churches in Decatur, Shearith Israel, Clarkston Interfaith, Emory University, and many other religious and non-religious organizations. Reflecting on the history of the MLK Day of Service, Melanie Johnson, LSG’s Program Manager for Volunteer, Congregation, and Community Engagement, tied this diversity to Dr. King’s vision. “The Lutheran MLK Day of Service has gained new partners each year and has grown into the truly interfaith, collaborative, and community-based event that we all experienced on MLK Day 2013 in Clarkston,” she remarked. “This year’s event was a powerful example of the Beloved Community that was a foundation of Dr. King’s work – a community where love and trust overcome fear and hatred, and peace with justice will prevail.” LSG is proud to be a part of this diverse and inclusive community and thanks all the partner organizations, including the Clarkston Community Center and the Clarkston Development Foundation, for a wonderful event. LSG is also grateful to all the donors and volunteers who contributed their resources and time to helping the families in Clarkston!
To see more photographs from the event, visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/LSofGA