Martin Luther King Service Day held in Boston
BOSTON —Hundreds of people gathered at the Reggie Lewis track in Boston on Monday to help build beds, stitch quilts and construct a personal oasis for young children as part of Martin Luther King Service Day.
“There really aren’t that many opportunities for people to come together in service,” said Patrice Keegan, of Boston Cares, which organized the daylong event. “It’s one of the things Boston Cares is about: building opportunities for people to serve together.”
Students, families and corporate sponsors hammered, painted, drilled and sewed for hours to put together 50 beds with quilts, laptop desks, teddy bears and learning games to go with each bed.
“A lot of the kids who don’t have beds are homeless; are transitioning into housing. Sometimes they’re in a home,” said Keegan. “But they share a bed with somebody else. They’re sleeping on the floor. They’re sleeping on the couch.”
“There’s a lot of research that shows if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re less likely to succeed in life,” she added.
“It’s easy for us to forget about something as simple as having a bed as a kid, and I think it’s great we can give back and give kids something they don’t have,” said Vin South, a volunteer from Target, one of the sponsors of the service day.
Northeastern University students arrived as part of their Give Back 5 Day, a week of giving anything from five minutes, five hours or $5 to charity.
“Why not spend your Monday painting beds for kids than sleeping in for five hours?” asked Northeastern student Kimberly Whitney.
The spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pervaded the entire track.
“We all have dreams, aspirations of things we want to do, and this is giving back to the kids. They have a dream, as well,” said Ed Grimes, a Target staffer.
“A lot of opportunities have arisen thanks to him,” said Michelle Suk, of Northeastern. “I’m also a woman in engineering, and that’s also an opportunity that you can see linked to a great figure like Martin Luther King.”
“To me, Martin Luther King Day is about hope and promise and seeing the future,” said Kayla Lee, of Harvard University. ” So for him, he saw a dream that didn’t exist way back then, so now each day, we can live up to that dream.”
“Especially as a collegiate,” said Kelly Ann Kirkpatrick, of Boston College. “I want to make sure I give back to my community every step of the way because if it wasn’t for other people helping me get here, I wouldn’t be in school.”
Boston Cares will sponsor other service days throughout the year as well as put together 3,000 teams of volunteers. She said she’s confident they will surpass its 2014 goal of constructing 500 beds.
Monday’s service day will cost an estimated $25,000 to $30,000, but nearly all of the materials, labor and delivery of goods were donated.