Valley residents honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior

It was a day of service, honor and giving in communities around the Valley.
January 20, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Over two thousand people gathered at Saint John's Cathedral early Monday morning to take part in a march honoring Martin Luther King Junior on what would have been his 85th birthday.

Parents like Semere Paulos want to make sure younger generations know why the civil rights leader is a part of history. "The world that they are going to live in is going to be completely transformed and it's mostly due to this man that we are honoring here today," said Paulos.

The march made a stop at Fresno City Hall, where organizers addressed the crowd.

Once the marchers made their way to Memorial Park, they continued the celebration by signing hymns

Les Kimber, a former Fresno City Council member, started the event 30 ago. "We established a first unit committee in October of 1983 declaring the third Monday in January a Martin Luther King Holiday. That was two years before the National Holiday was established."

Growing up in the south, Kimber experienced segregation first hand. "We have come a long way but the journey is not over. We have to keep pushing until all of God's children participates fully in the goodness of the country."

After the march, people were invited to attend a program at Veterans Memorial Auditorium where canned food items were donated to help the less fortunate.

Dozens of students turned today's "day off" into a "day on" in Dr. King's honor. They showed up for a day of service at Wawona Middle School in Fresno to help with a campus clean-up project and painting inspirational messages around campus.

The principal says each year on Martin Luther King Day about 100 students take part in Wawona's Day of Service.

Some Valley residents took Doctor Martin Luther King's message of service to heart on Monday by volunteering to help others. Monday morning, the Community Food Bank was ready to fight hunger and they got some extra help in honor of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Day.

"We call it a 'day on' instead of a 'day off.' All our team is here on a vacation day, but it's to give back to the community. We refer to it as being a day on to live the legacy of Dr. King," said Jeff Collins, Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice President.

As a part of a day of giving, 80 Kaiser employees took their work outside to the food bank's first big give away of the month. Some people lined up as early as 5 a.m. to get a box of food. "I just came to get some food. Right now its hard times. We just need some extra food on the table," said Michael Yamane, Fresno.

Yamane said he felt grateful for the volunteers and blessed to get some help. Food bank organizers say the event helps connect our community. "Come in direct contact with the people they serve from a distance. It's really great for them to be one on one with them," said Andy Souza, Community Food Bank C.E.O.

Many of the Kaiser employees who volunteered also brought their children. Together with the food bank and Conservation Corps, they boxed and distributed nearly 40-thousand pounds of food and fresh produce to families. "It's just a great opportunity to get food directly to folks who otherwise by the end of this month, may not have anything on their table or plates," said Souza.

This is the third year, Kaiser has teamed up with the food bank for a Day of Service. The food bank says it could always use food donations or volunteers to help. This year, volunteers were able to help more than 700 families in need.


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