Hundreds of volunteers give back to community to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with week of service

Hundreds of volunteers are taking part in a week of service to honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday started at The Ritz Theatre and Museum for a kickoff rally and for the more than 700 volunteers to get their assignments for the day.

“Really what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is about, it is about giving and service, and that giving and service are really connected to transformational change and communities, sobbing, those really tough critical issues, from poverty, and quite frankly, of course, to generational and systemic racism,” United Way Chief Operating Officer Coretta Hill said.

One of the assignments included sending volunteers to Weare Street, where they worked on painting and revamping the outside of a house. The owner has lived there for more than 50 years.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan was among the volunteers.

“I think it starts with the service projects, but we have to be very intentional to keep pushing toward making the inequities in our community disappear,” Deegan said.

Deegan believes these projects build relationships and foster unity — inspired by the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

That’s why Nikeya Taylor was also there Saturday morning.

“It is what drives us, and why we do what we do. For me personally, I consider myself to be a servant of the people and of the community. Just to be able to give back if I were in the same situation, I would be so grateful if I were in their position,” Taylor said.

RELATED | Calendar of events for MLK Week of Service

But this is just one of more than 50 different service projects lined up over the next week.

This specific project took place on the Eastside, but there are service projects in the New Town neighborhood and north Riverside.

It is not just limited to Duval County either. Projects are also happening in Nassau County and Clay County.

A food distribution also took place as part of the week of service at The Boylan Flats on the Eastside.

“When you look at Jacksonville, like 40% of our community is going without. We are not having basic needs made. What better way to show up for our community and to show that I care then to say ‘hey, I see you and I’m going to make sure that your belly is full tonight,’” volunteer Elizabeth Findley said.

For Sangelo Mincey, who was born and raised in Jacksonville, he calls this work a duty.

“This is our community. These are our people. If we do not take care of them, if we do not serve each other, then what are we really doing?” Mincey said. “Make sure that we are always giving to each other and serving one another. I think that will not only enrich our own lives, but it will make our community a lot better.”

A blueprint laid out by Dr. King.

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