Lancaster to hold seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

City granted $1,000 through Youth Service America

OW Staff Writer | 1/17/2014, midnight

The city of Lancaster announced more than 25 community projects as part of its Seventh Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The projects will be held at various locations throughout the Antelope Valley, with the majority of the projects taking place on Saturday, January 18. Many of the projects are still accepting volunteers and sponsors.

“This is your opportunity to step up and make a difference in your community,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Your involvement has a positive effect, whether you donate supplies, give blood, volunteer to paint, feed the homeless, or bring a smile to the face of a hospice care patient. When several thousands of people donate just a few hours of their Saturday to improve our community, it has an enormous impact.”

This year, the city received a $1,000 grant from Youth Service America (YSA), in support of its Day of Service. YSA Grants empower youth-led service and service-learning projects with funding, training and resource support to harness the creativity, energy and unique perspective of young people to grow stronger communities, foster student achievement and build workplace readiness skills.

Inspired by Dr. King’s quote, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,” the city is continuing the commitment made by Congress in 1994 which designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative, calling for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.

Last year’s Day of Service included thousands of volunteers who helped with planting, painting, cleaning and creating projects in the city. One of the most successful projects was the renovation of the Lancaster Community Shelter. Nearly 100 people from various religious organizations took on 29 renovation projects that included repairing beds and outdoor cement, improving the lawns and much more. This year, volunteers have the opportunity to maintain community gardens, brighten Wellness Homes, and spruce up the El Dorado Park Preschool facility.

This will be the first year that Lancaster’s new volunteer program, AmeriCorps’ Volunteers’ in Service to America (VISTA), will be contributing to the MLK Day of Service. Created in August 2013, VISTA volunteers dedicate a year of their lives to developing and managing a community-wide volunteer program to help all the service organizations that need or utilize volunteers in the Antelope Valley.

Hundreds of residents have already volunteered, but more are welcome. Businesses are also being invited to donate supplies to established service projects. To volunteer, make a donation or request additional information, contact the city’s Parks, Recreation and Arts Department at (661) 723-6077, or visit www.cityoflancasterca.org/mlkday.