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Indianans Living Dr. King’s Legacy through Service

IMAGE: Thousands of Indiana volunteers will give back in their own communities during today's National Day of Service, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
IMAGE: Thousands of Indiana volunteers will give back in their own communities during today's National Day of Service, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 20, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Hoosiers are being encouraged to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by helping their neighbors, and from Evansville to Fort Wayne, thousands are participating in today's MLK National Day of Service. According to Craig Brenner, special projects coordinator, Community and Family Resources Department, City of Bloomington, volunteering helps to strengthen local communities, and the city encourages residents to make it a "day on," not a day off.

"When Dr. King's birthday was turned into a federal holiday, the whole idea was to promote it as a day of service, and Bloomington as well as communities around the country have bought into that idea," Brenner said. "And every year, we've had an increase in people that are interested in helping their fellow citizens."

Brenner said they expect 3000 to 4000 volunteers this year. Other service projects were held over the weekend in communities across Indiana, and more are planned for the remainder of the week.

Through grants from Service for Peace and the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, Brenner said, the city has distributed $29,000 to fund some of this year's service projects.

"For example, we've got projects that work with youth. We have projects based in the community that involve collecting food," he said. "Other volunteers are helping Habitat for Humanity, and actually building some houses."

At the end of their service work today, Bloomington volunteers can attend a program to honor their efforts, with a speech by former Freedom Rider Hank Thomas. Today's holiday also marks the start of "40 Days of Peace," in which all Bloomington residents are encouraged to pledge to work together to reduce violence.

More information on events is online at MLKDay.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN