360 volunteers help others in honor of MLK
Nearly 360 volunteers in Snohomish County – more than ever before – honored Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and mission on Jan. 20 by making it a day on, not a day off.
About 300 teenagers and 60 adults, many of them from Mukilteo, volunteered to help those in need from across the county for the annual MLK Day of Service.
In its fifth year in Snohomish County, the project has expanded so that teens are now helping not only the elderly and disabled, but anyone in need. About 20 percent more volunteers signed up to serve this year.
“The MLK Day of Service brings high school students and community volunteers together to serve the most vulnerable members of our community, transforming Dr. King’s life mission and teachings into community service,” said Sara Haner of United Way of Snohomish County.
Teens from Kamiak High School and with United Way’s Youth United and YMCA’s Minority Achievers programs teamed up with adults to do household chores, yard work and more.
“The teens who come out to this look forward to it every year,” Haner said. “They really seem to care about what they’re doing. It goes beyond that school requirement they may have – they’re passionate about helping the community.”
A team of more than 10 Kamiak students helped to lead Valentine’s Day craft projects for about 30 clients with disabilities at Full Life Center in Everett.
The volunteers were at the adult day health center for about three hours, cutting tissue paper hearts, designing Valentine cards and adorning decorative pins. They also chatted with clients about high school.
“We love having the high school students,” said Chloe Cook, a center employee. “It’s a lot of fun, with so many fresh faces. It’s just great to have so many people here to help out.”
Cook said she is thankful that the volunteers chose to give up their holiday to help their clients one-on-one with crafts that promote creativity, dexterity and fine-motor skills.
“Usually if we want to do a craft this involved, it would be really difficult because usually there’s one or two staff members,” she said. “You obviously can’t individually help each person all the time.”
Kamiak senior Theresa Tan said the Day of Service is a great opportunity to do community service in King’s honor.
“MLK Day should be a day on, not a day off, so even though we don’t have school, I still want to do something meaningful and help the community,” she said.
“I get that fuzzy feeling inside. I don’t care about the volunteer hours. I want to help people. It makes me happy.”
Jessica Tran, also a Kamiak senior, said that as she helped make Valentines she thought about all the other teenagers around Snohomish County who also were volunteering at that very moment.
“I volunteered in the past for MLK, and I thought it was a really fun way to spend the day, to give back to the community like this. It feels good, but also it’s great to see how you can help others.”
Full Life Center client Bill A. made a pile of Valentines with Tran’s help, including cards for employees at the center. He said the volunteers there were nice to help out.
“I’m having fun,” he said. “It’s something to do.”
The MLK Day of Service is a partnership of United Way Snohomish County, YMCA of Snohomish County, Catholic Community Services and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, a program of Catholic Community Services.
Volunteers assisted those in need in Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Snohomish, Stanwood and Sultan.