United Way of Southwest Michigan harnesses volunteer power on MLK Day

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — United Way of Southwest Michigan is partnering with local service groups and organizations in honor of MLK Day of Service on Jan. 21. Thanks to a grant from The Corporation for National and Community Service, Berrien and Cass County volunteers will join thousands of nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, schools and businesses nationwide putting service into action.

MLK Day projects currently include a food drive for area pantries and soup kitchens hosted by Upton Middle School’s Interact Club, St. Joseph High School and Lakeshore High School’s Key Clubs and Niles High School’s SADD club. The students at the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor Joel E. Smilow Teen Center will set out in their neighborhood shoveling snow and salting walks for area seniors. The staff at the Department of Health and Human Services Berrien County will be packing 100 literacy kits to be given to the children they serve and the UWSM staff will be collecting new socks and underwear for kids in foster care.

The MLK Day of Service is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer efforts. For more information, visit nationalservice.gov.

“Today we answer Dr. King’s call to serve and are making a difference in the lives of Berrien and Cass County residents,” said Anna Murphy, president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Volunteer service is not only a great resource, it’s a powerful tool that builds strong communities while allowing us to meet local needs. We are putting the core American principles of citizenship and service into action.”

To get involved, contact United Way let representatives know what project you are planning or if you need volunteers for your organization on MLK Day by reaching out to Julee Laurent at (269) 932-3566 or julee.laurent@uwsm.org.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that leads the annual MLK Day of Service, working with the King Center in Atlanta and thousands of nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, schools, and businesses nationwide

These projects include delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, signing up mentors, reading to children, promoting nonviolence, and more. The MLK Day of Service shines a spotlight on service as a powerful force to bridge economic and social divides throughout the year, said organizers. Many communities will also engage in dialogue to explore ways they can address important issues.

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