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Many Ways to Volunteer on MLK Service Day

OSSINING, N.Y. – From cutting down invasive vines to donating winter clothing for children, there are many ways to volunteer locally on Martin Luther King Service Day.

Martin Luther King Service Day is not only a time to honor King, a pivotal figure in the American civil rights movement, it is also a time to respond to King's statement that "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

In 1994, the U.S. Congress designated Martin Luther King Day a national day of service during which Americans are called upon to volunteer in their communities to help move our nation closer to King's vision of a "beloved community" where men and women are treated as brothers and sisters no matter where they come from or who they are.

"The MLK Day of service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a 'day on', not a 'day off'," the MLKday.gov website states.

This year, MLK Service Day is taking place on Saturday, Jan. 14, even though the actual MLK holiday is on Monday, Jan. 16.

People can sign up to volunteer in their community through the Volunteer Center of United Way's website . The website lists 29 local service projects planned for Saturday. Here is a description of some of the projects:

- In Hastings, work with Groundwork Hudson Valley to remove invasive vines on trees. The removal of these vines will help rescue native vegetation, restore stream buffers and preserve the area's biodiversity. Volunteers will also help remove garbage. The minimum age to participate in this activity is 16.

- In Tarrytown, work with the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics to bake friendship cookies to share with people with developmental disabilities.

- In Port Chester, work with Family Services of Westchester to collect donations of winter clothing for children. Donations can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Clothing sizes four to six are especially needed.

- In White Plains, work with the White Plains Youth Bureau's Saturday Academy program to create a collage related to the themes of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and to discuss the meaning of the day. The minimum age for this activity is 16.

- In Yonkers, work with the Family Services of Westchester to paint the reception area and offices of the Yonkers Family Mental Health Center. The minimum age for this activity is 16.

- In White Plains, work with the Westchester Jewish Community Services to sort used children's clothing and to make "Bags of Love" consisting of seven outfits for a child that will serve for each day of one week. The minimum age for this activity is 18.

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