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Houstonians roll up sleeves for MLK days of service

Saturday, January 19, 2013
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Saturday was the first of three "days of service" honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and millions of Americans volunteered.

In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service. There are dozens of events planned in Houston throughout the long weekend.

Hundreds of volunteers were at the Houston Food Bank through 4pm to help sort food and pack boxes for those in need.

From families to church groups, corporations and even Girl Scouts, the food bank had 700 extra pairs of hands sorting canned donations and checking expiration dates.

Some of the boxes will go to Houston's elderly. Others will go to school children whose families can't otherwise afford food outside what they're served at school.

"I, too, have been in this same situation. So, there's nothing wrong or shameful to get help when you need help," volunteer Debra Pinkney said.

And with King's message at the front of their minds, Houston-area volunteers team up to give back and to receive in hopes that cycle will continue.

"I came from a challenged neighborhood," Rebekah Fields with the Houston Urban League said. "So now that I'm able to give back to other children, it's nice."

Volunteer opportunities are also available at the food bank Sunday from 9am to noon.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is also being celebrated with parades.

Young people marched Saturday in the seventh annual MLK Day Youth Parade through Midtown. Organizers say the parade reflects the country's diversity, with college and high school bands from 14 states.

That's just one of many local parades being held in honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. There will be three more Monday in Houston. Two begin at 10am -- one will be in Midtown and the other at Minute Maid Park. Another community parade will be held at Ripley House Neighborhood Center on Navigation Boulevard at 2:30pm.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be officially observed Monday. It was signed into law in 1983 and was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. The holiday was officially observed by all 50 states for the first time in 2000. On Monday, Americans will once again honor the late civil rights icon as 2013 marks 50 years since his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Learn about the national MLK Day of Service here.
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