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Oregon Groups Need Helping Hands for MLK Day Projects

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PHOTO: Students from Oregon State University Cascades spent last year's MLK Day helping at the Bend Community Center. This year, the list of Central Oregon projects has grown from 10 to 22. Photo credit: Michelle Bauer.
PHOTO: Students from Oregon State University Cascades spent last year's MLK Day helping at the Bend Community Center. This year, the list of Central Oregon projects has grown from 10 to 22. Photo credit: Michelle Bauer.
January 13, 2015

BEND, Ore. - It's less than a week until the nation commemorates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The holiday in King's name has become a national day of service, and some Oregonians have taken that mission to heart. In Central Oregon, Volunteer Connect has lined up 22 projects for charitable groups across Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties.

The list includes cleaning, painting, landscaping, and arranging flowers for hospice patients, along with building dog beds. Katya Spiecker, program coordinator with Volunteer Connect, says signing up is one way to get better acquainted with your community.

"It's also a great way to just change your perspective," she says. "It really does bridge gaps between people. You get to know your fellow volunteers, you get to know the nonprofit, and then you get to know, quite often, the people they serve and what they need."

MLK Day of Service events are being held across Oregon, so residents who live outside of Bend can contact local church or nonprofit groups to find out what's being planned in their communities and offer to help.

For the Central Oregon projects, volunteers are asked to sign up by this Friday, Jan. 16, either by calling or registering online at www.volunteerconnectnow.org.

For some people, MLK Day starts with a long to-do list of their own. Spiecker says the volunteer projects have been organized to not take up much time. Rather, she says the goal is to introduce new people to local organizations and opportunities.

"It's not an all-day thing, it's actually relatively short," she says. "It's just in the morning from 9 a.m. to noon. It's a quick three hours in the morning, and a good way to start off your week and the new year."

Volunteer Connect ends its morning projects with a luncheon in Bend, where volunteers can share their experiences.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR