Volunteers take part in Philly's MLK Day of Service

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For many in Philadelphia and beyond, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service not only honors the life and legacy of the legendary civil rights leader, but also affords an opportunity to translate his words into action.

On Monday, the nation remembered King with service projects across the nation.

In Haddonfield, commissioners, Boy Scouts and other city officials took to the streets and led a candlelight procession down Kings Highway. Wrapping up the evening's events with a student essay contest recognizing the civil rights icon.

Earlier in the day, a choir kicked off a prayer breakfast in Wilmington where Clarence B. Jones, an advisor and speechwriter for Martin Luther King, Jr., was the guest speaker.

Local leaders helped build the book cases with kids. The Free Library is happy this day can serve as an engine for their initiative.

"Read by Fourth is a citywide campaign, and our aim is that all children can read on grade level by the time they get to fourth grade," said Jenny Bogoni.

But the Day of Service went beyond education and covered needs all of kinds, including the fight against hunger.

"The kids are encouraged to come to school because they get to eat. In turn they get an education. If they get an education, they can get a job, and if they get a job they can come back and take care of their families," said Latoya Gillyard of Stop Hunger Now.

Veterans' needs were also represented.

"I think it's twofold. You have veterans who need services and we provide those services for them, but we also have at least 10 veterans who are volunteering in this event. I like the fact that we are engaging veterans who are coming out in the community and engaging in their civic duty," said Jose Martinez, the executive director of The Veterans Group Philadelphia.

At least 5.000 people showed up for the 22nd annual Service Project in Philadelphia hosted by Girard College.

Event founder Todd Bernstein explained this year's theme.

"The overall theme is educational justice. We're creating mini-libraries for unconventional places like barber shops, nail salons, laundromats, where kids go with their parents," he said.

From taking on large scale initiatives, to marching for justice, to volunteering, thousands proved that there is no one way to help realize Dr. King's dream.
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