HARRISBURG, Pa. — Since 1994 millions of volunteers have participated as part of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This year, volunteers in central Pennsylvania worked on dozens of projects, doing everything from knitting scarves to picking up litter.
While most government offices were closed today, the Harrisburg City Government Center was open for an MLK Day of Service project put on students in the after-school program of the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg. Students in sixth through 11th grade helped make and serve 100 hot meals to those in need.
Nyara Jones-Lowden, a freshman at Dauphin County Technical School, greeted each person coming up for food: "Welcome. You can have anything you like and you can also enjoy your meal here."
They served hot chocolate and tea, as well as biscuits and individually-packed soups, like chicken and corn, and beef and vegetable.
With school off for the day, the students could have stayed in bed. Each had their own reason to volunteer instead.
"It's better to help than just lie around and do nothing," Jones-Lowden said.
"I really had nothing else to do today," said Jasmine Olmos, an eighth grader at Capital Academy
The Boys and Girls Club has been putting on this MLK Day of Service meal for a few years now.
"All of this is coming together in a tradition which I think is really a very positive one," said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse.
Each year the mayor makes a special visit to talk to the kids, as well as talk to those receiving meals. If they're interested, Papenfuse said, he lets them know about nearby shelters.
"We do have a commitment to eliminating homelessness in Harrisburg," Papenfuse said. "There are resources, beds where people can go."
Even after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Papenfuse added, anyone can stop in the City Government Center to get information for local homelessness resources.