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Celebrate and Serve Your Community on MLK Day

Local organization hosts day of celebration and volunteerism, with "real-time" opportunities for community service.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 21. There are many opportunities to serve the community on that day; check the National Day of Service website for activites in your area.

The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, along with First Baptist Church of South Orange and Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, are co-hosting an interfaith observance and Volunteer Fair on Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. at Morrow Church in Maplewood.

The event features guest speaker Junius Williams, Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers, Newark and music from a jazz ensemble and the combined choirs of local churches.

A Volunteer Fair and reception will immediately follow the observance, and will include local volunteer activities, some of which can be completed "on the spot."

Here is a complete list of volunteer activities:

Winter Blood Drive–Monday, Jan. 21, 9:30 am -2:00 pm at the SO Rescue Squad, 4 Third Street, SO. Organized by the South Orange Rotary, Maplewood Rotary, W/SO Interact Leaders, & SHU Rotaract. Call Stacey Borden at 973-454-6272 for more information or visit www.nybloodcenter.org for eligibility information. Click here for flyer.

Rent Party BackPack Pals–Assemble backpacks filled with essential items for families in need in Maplewood and South Orange.  Materials will be provided–assembly will take place at the Volunteer Fair immediately following the MLK Observance. Donations for future backpacks are welcome.

PTA-sponsored MLK Special Event for Children, 10 am – 12 noon, Maplewood Middle School Auditorium; advance tickets recommended.  Click here for details.

M.E.N.D–meeting emergency needs with dignity. MEND is an interfaith anti-hunger network in Essex County that provides emergency food to individuals and families in crisis.  Please bring non-perishable foods (no glass) like cereal and canned goods to the Volunteer Fair.

Junior League of the Oranges & Short Hills–The league will be promoting volunteerism to children with an essay contest.  Children are asked to write an essay addressing the question “What would you do with $100 to serve your community?”  

Emily’s Hats for Hope Initiative–Creating winter hats, scarves, afghans & gloves for the homeless & working poor, since December 2011.  Bring your unused yarn to donate to this group that knits for a cause!

Durand-Hedden House & Garden–“Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us” is the name of an upcoming event at Maplewood’s historic house museum.  Durand-Hedden will be collecting gently used shoes for Soles4Souls.

Horizon Lower School in Livingston—run by the Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, this school serves students ages 3-13 with multiple disabilities from throughout New Jersey. Children and adult volunteers are invited to create personalized books for Horizon students with pictures. 

New Eyes for the Needy–Drop off used glasses at their headquarters 549 Millburn Avenue, Short Hills.

Participants can also learn about other local organizations, including the Interfaith Hospitality Network, the South Orange Elks, EIES of New Jersey, the Maplewood First Aid Squad, the Maplewood Civic Association, South Mountain Peace Action, the Achieve Foundation and Essex County CASA.

For more information, visit the Coalition's web site at www.twotowns.org or call 973-761-6116.

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