Philadelphia’s 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to draw 85,000 participants

Martin Luther King Jr. statue at Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

More than 85,000 people are expected to participate in Philadelphia’s 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service tomorrow.

Though the tradition will be practiced in other cities, it began in the Philadelphia area, which will have the largest number of participants in the country, with 1,300 service projects in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Girard College in North Philadelphia will serve as the hub of the celebration, as the site of a 1965 protest in which King called for the school to open its doors to students of every race.

Beginning at 9 a.m., Mayor Michael Nutter will deliver remarks and volunteers at the college will package hundreds of thousands of meals for worldwide distribution and collect canned goods for local food banks.
Events also include a civic engagement exposition to educate attendees how they can get involved with local nonprofits and other volunteer activities, a health and wellness fair with onsite screenings and testings, its first-ever job fair featuring 20 employers and a children’s carnival.

Though the deadline for volunteer participation in those activities has passed, there are other ways to get involved.
Students from Villanova and St. Joseph’s Universities, along with State Rep. Louise Bishop Williams, will do cleaning projects and put together math and reading booklets at the nonprofits Arc of Philadelphia and its sister organization, the Philadelphia
Developmental Disabilities Corp.

The Americorps-affiliated City Year of Greater
Philadelphia will lead volunteers in beautification
projects at Germantown High School.

The Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Nonviolence, Inc.will hold its 30th annual benefit luncheon and awards at the Sheraton Downtown, which will follow a symbolic ringing of the Liberty Bell by their drum major honorees.

Honorees include Malaak Shabazz and Ilyasah Shaazz, two daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, HIV/AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes of the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania and civil rights activist Rosa Lee Smith.

Tickets can be bought at the door at 11:45 a.m.

In honor of the holiday, State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas wiil open the Mt. Tabor CDC Edwina A. Baker Cyber Learning Center at Mt. Tabor AME Church on North 7th Street near West Girard Avenue. The center will offer computer-based math and reading education activities based on the State Academic Standards for Pre-K children with a mission “to increase school readiness and critical
thinking skills of 3 to 5 year-olds from low- to moderate-income
families in North Philadelphia using state-of-the-art multimedia

Today, several religious celebrations will mark the commemoration. Archbishop Charles Chaput will lead a service in remembrance of King’s life at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish at 3 p.m. and the 29th annual King interfaith celebration will be held at Janes Memorial United Methodist Church in East Germantown from 3 to 5 p.m, with District Attorney Seth Williams as key speaker.

Philadelphia NAACP’s 34th All-Faith Service in recognition of King, also featuring remarks by Nutter, will be held at tomorrow at Temple University’s Baptist Temple, where King delivered a 1965 civil rights speech one week before Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Nutter, along with other community and government leaders, will also attend a King-inspired community meeting at Bethel Temple Community Bible Church in Fairhill tomorrow at 4 p.m. to discuss anti-violence, community service and the introduction of the city’s Philly Rising program in the area.

Click here for more information on events and volunteer opportunities across the region.


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