200 city employees spend day volunteering for MLK Helping Hands Day

200 city employees spend day volunteering for MLK Helping Hands Day
January 21
00:00 2016

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

Dozens of city employees celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last Friday by taking a break from their normal duties to volunteer at non-profit organizations across the city. The hiatus was part of the city’s first-ever Martin Luther King Jr. Helping Hands Day, an event designed to promote Dr. King’s strong belief in giving back to others.

From helping organize the food pantry at Crisis Control Ministry, to hanging clothes at Dress for  Success, the volunteers completed a number of different tasks at 12 non-profit organizations and one elementary school in the area.

A number of volunteers said they decided to participate in the event because it’s important to give to those in need. Others mentioned they plan to volunteer for the event next year as well.

“I try to volunteer and help those in need as much as I can,” said Brittany Marshall. “So when I heard about this opportunity, I knew I wanted to be involved.”

Human relations director and event coordinator Wanda Allen-Abraha said Helping Hands Day mirrors the cooperative diversity that Dr. King advocated.

“It is reflected both in the diversity of the organizations where city employees will be serving, and in the diversity of the employees who stepped forward to volunteer.”

Allen-Abraha noted that city officials have always promoted city participation in honoring King’s legacy and Helping Hands is just the latest example.

In 1985 Winston-Salem became one of the first cities in North Carolina to designate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday. Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke said she could not think of a better way to honor Dr. King.

“This is a new and creative way to celebrate the life of Dr. King,” she said. “We’re going to have a big impact on the community.”

Mayor Allen Joines said he wants the event to continue to grow by adding more organizations and getting more participation from the city employees.

“I’m proud of all the city employees who volunteered for this event,” he said. “I have no doubt this event will continue to grow and carry on the dreams and ideals of Dr. King.”

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