Inequalities exist in many forms in today’s world. Whether it is poor vs. rich or teenagers vs. adults, prejudice stumbling blocks affect everyone. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out on one of the biggest stumbling blocks of all: racial prejudice. His work and his determination saved many from losing their basic rights to people’s idea of a perfect hierarchy. Service is important on this day because it pays homage to those minorities that may not have a Martin Luther King Jr. to speak up for them. It’s a day to put aside all the prejudices and come together to volunteer as one.
Something I quickly learned about YVCKC is that you never know what to expect; every project is different.
Over the years, I've volunteered with dozens of organizations through YVCKC and am extremely grateful to be able to give back to the community through such a fantastic organization. This MLK Day, I volunteered at the HALO foundation's (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) Kansas City location.
We started with an ice breaker, as usual. For this one, Paul had us break into two teams and then draw slips of paper out of a bag with something on it, like "wrench." The volunteers then had to guess what the word or object was from the leader's clues; the twist was the actual word that was trying to be guessed could not be said. The two teams ended up tying.
After, we got to work. We started by making frames for photos of some of the children HALO serves. This was a good time to not only help others, but also get to know the other volunteers better. As a 4-5 year YVCKC veteran, I knew some of the people on this project, but not everyone.
As we completed the frames, it become obvious that everyone had a unique style. This is something I love about YVCKC. People come from all over the city of different ages, from different schools, different backgrounds; people come together to achieve a goal. And to be able to do this through art was an amazing and fun experience.
And achieve the goal we did. Before long, our task had been completed and we moved on to helping the physical facility.
Jobs included sweeping, cleaning windows, organizing the sewing room, emptying trash bins and other small duties. Again, it's astonishing how quick people are to help out. Volunteers who had finished their duty, they would offer help to others right off the bat. That quality isn't something you see everyone, and is something to be grateful for.
At the end of the two hours, we all gathered in a circle and talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and why we volunteer, giving up time on our free day, on this holiday. Every volunteer said something they noticed, following a HALO tradition. Common themes were individuality, universal acceptance of others and various ways of working, good attitudes, and a cohesiveness volunteering magically magnifies.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors a man who did something without being asked to better his community. He did not do it alone, but called people around him together to push for something that was important to him, the country, and even humanity. And Rev. King did not ask for recognition; that wasn't the point.
I strongly believe the projects on the same day achieved these goals as well, and I have always thought YVCKC goes and above and beyond.
But I am writing about something I observed. And as a result, I can confidently say I truly think the MLK Day HALO project honored Rev. King and embodied what the day is all about.
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