Today, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, hundreds echoed Dr. King's message of service and leadership by gathering to take part in a volunteer march to GiftsToGive in New Bedford, where volunteers dedicated their time to serve their community's needs. The march and service project were organized by SouthCoast Serves, a UMass Dartmouth and Leduc Center for Civic Engagement collaborative that fosters service and volunteerism. Upon arrival to GiftsToGive, a former textile mill turned into a philanthropic center, volunteers organized gift-packs of clothes, books, and toys for thousands of local children who are homeless or living in poverty. UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman took part in the march, service project, and offered remarks to volunteers prior to the march.
"The MLK Day of Service helps demonstrate the power of giving and service," offered CEO and Founder of GiftsToGive Jim Stevens. "Utilizing the time and talents donated by thousands of volunteers, we can continue to build a community which ensures children are connected with what they need. We are fortunate to have a partner in SouthCoast Serves, along with our many other philanthropic partners, that remain so dedicated to the idea of Big Citizenship."
The march to the gift-pack project began at Roosevelt Junior High School in New Bedford, following a teach-in, which included the showing of the powerful film The Children's March.
"Through service, we can take responsibility for our region's future," said Deirdre Healy, Director of the Leduc Center's Office of Community Service & Partnerships. "Our vision is to echo Dr. King's message that '...everyone is great because everyone can serve' not just today, but throughout the year and today we celebrate that message."
SouthCoast Serves launched an Anti-Hunger Campaign, as an addition to its Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project, funded by the Massachusetts Service Alliance. This year, SouthCoast Serves hopes to echo Dr. King's anti-poverty message by encouraging service and volunteerism around the issue of food security.
"It is incredible, year after year, to see the commitment to service grow on the SouthCoast," said UMass Dartmouth sophomore and SouthCoast Serves co-coordinator Jacob Miller, who took part in the MLK Day of service last year as a freshman. "It is important to me as a student and also a lifelong resident of the region that giving back and making a difference is at the core of my university and community."
This evening, all are invited to the the opening date for a SouthCoast Serves organized art exhibit. Music, appetizers, and local art will be enjoyed, beginning at 5:00 p.m., at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in New Bedford. There will be opportunities to donate during an online auction at the exhibit to support local food pantries and agencies. An art exhibit will also be on display at Fall River City Hall later in the month. The documentary "A Place at the Table" will also be screened at 7:00 p.m.
UMass Dartmouth's SouthCoast Serves strives to meet the needs of communities by leveraging resources, expertise, and capacity to maximize impact. For more information, visit www.southcoastserves.org or SouthCoast Serves' Facebook page.