Nearly 200 volunteers packed 25,000 meals for the MLK Day of Service at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown on Monday.
The meals were packed for Rise Against Hunger, a global organization that is working to end world hunger by 2030, by a collective of community groups from across the city.
“King didn’t give up on us, we’ve got to keep moving on his mission. His mission was peace. If we can do our part, we don’t want the devil stopping us,” said Cherese Akers, project organizer and Founder of the partner organization We Heard You.
Akers said the partners raised $8500 for the project, with a significant portion coming from District 1199C. Volunteers came from all over the city and several organizations brought out youth who made up almost about half of those in attendance.
“I love participating for my community,” said Darrell Haines, a high school senior who volunteered on behalf of the Boys Track program. “When I see what happens out here – I heard it was a shooting that killed a kid I used to know – I don’t like it. I can’t go out of the house for 10 seconds. [But] I like serving. I feel like I should be able to reach out more. How I feel this helps is me showing up.”
Philadelphia DHS Social Work Services Manager, Andrew Williams, said in addition to the service component, the project gave the young men something worthwhile to do on a day off from school. DHS Boys Track, which completes monthly community service projects, brought at least 20 volunteers.
“We want to remember MLK [and] we want to give back. A lot of our kids right now are self-absorbed. This gives them the opportunity to see outside of themselves and to see as bad as they have it, somebody else can have it worse,” said Williams. “[But] also idle time is the devil’s playground. Kids are out of school today, this gives them something constructive to do. We also use it as an incentive because we take trips and we want to make sure they know how to be earners.”
Josiah Brunson, a sixth grader who volunteered on behalf of the We Heard You mentoring program, said he felt his service was in line with King’s vision.
“He wanted to make the world great,” said Brunson. “By packing this food, we are saving tons of lives.”
Other sponsors and partners on the effort were The Prestige Society, Philly Cares, Pleasant Playground Advisory Council, Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry, District 1199C NUHHCE and the Thomas and Woods Foundation.