Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service across Delaware County

Delaware County celebrated the 28th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service in the Philadelphia area Monday with a variety of events.

At Prospect Park, the Youth Club and the Prospect Park Fire Company jointly sponsored a drive-thru food fundraiser.

Volunteers collected nonperishable foods such as canned goods, jars of peanut butter or jelly, rice, cereal, dried fruit and raisins, breakfast bars, and healthy snacks at the Lincoln Avenue Fire Station.

Following the food fundraiser, the congregation delivered an “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in which the congregation read the historic speech in front of Prospect Hill Baptist Church.

“It’s a little slow this year,” said organizer Paul Johnson. “We’re grateful for whatever we can get out of it. People come out to give to some people who don’t have as much as they do.”

Council President Pat O’Connell said the ride is keeping food local, with donations going to the Delaware County Community College’s undergraduate bread and fish pantry and food pantry.

‘It is important’

In Chester, activists organized several cleanups and activities across the city.

A peace march went from Calvary Baptist Church to Martin Luther King Park, followed by a community cleanup.

One group that answered the call was from the Sisters Going Strong Ministries, who were cleaning up the area along Edgmont Avenue near Deshong Park to the Dollar Tree parking lot and Ninth Street near the Ruth L. Bennett Homes.

Rev. Rasheedah Lee, with an inspired spirit, gathered a group of two dozen volunteers to light up the streets.

Lee said Going Strong has been holding cleanups for a while, but this was their first at MLK Day.

“We tend to do it in the spring. We have established ourselves since 2017. We cater to the community, cleanups, Pampers freebies, we’re consistent in the community,” she said.

Among the volunteers was Kia Farrow, from Chester, who brought her sister Kiamora and son Isaiah Bradley, 10, with her.

“It’s important,” Farrow said when asked what she released.

As the crew picked up leaves, cans, papers and debris, a passing man thanked them.

“Everyone has a role”

In Nether Providence Township, the Wallingford Swarthmore School District held its first community-wide celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the middle school with service activities, speakers and student performances.

The celebration recalled the importance of preserving King’s legacy of love and belonging and encouraged parishioners to volunteer and give back not only to the local community, but to the causes they care about. The event included a grab-and-go breakfast, legislators’ remarks, a keynote address and various student performances and student-led community service activities.

dr Wagner Marseille, Superintendent, welcomed Chad Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, for the keynote address.

Lassiter said those working in the civil rights era keep three words in mind: “Truth, Love, and Kindness.”

Lassiter noted that at a time when there are more than 700 documented hate groups and 44,000 gun deaths nationwide, the path to change is a peaceful path, not hatred of others.

“We remember a man who lived so passionately and yet knew that passive resistance is the only way to fight oppression,” Lassiter said. “King said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ ”

Lassiter urged those in attendance to stay positive and not let the pessimism that change can’t be gotten them down.

Senator Tim Kearney noted that the fight for justice is a team sport.

“Everyone has a role and a role to play,” Kearney said.

Rep. Leanne Krueger spoke about King’s 1963 letter from Birmingham Jail, which she says was addressed to white supporters.

Krueger said there are two kinds of law: just and unjust.

“I fight against unjust laws,” Krueger said.

She also asked those present, “How can you improve the lives of others today?”

After the speakers, the students performed in front of the packed crowd. The students read King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and danced and sang together in the spirit of being the dream.

Senior Supraja Sudarsan presented a thoughtful monologue on the limits of empathy, victim fatigue and how this can be a sign of racism in disguise.

Throughout the morning, the students also presented a living wax museum and conducted numerous service activities, including collecting socks and winter clothing, preparing Valentine’s Day cards for Fair Acres residents, and writing letters to soldiers.

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