Service projects to mark MLK holiday
by Noreen Cochran
January 18, 2013 12:21 AM | 4244 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Events that celebrate the life, ministry and civil rights milestones of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. kick off today in Marietta and Austell.

Here are some of the activities planned:

Totes 2 Tots

Georgia Cancer Specialists will hold its 11th annual Totes 2 Tots suitcase drive for foster children at its offices in Austell and Marietta today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Established in 2003 by an employee who volunteered with foster children and learned they often shuffle their belongings from home to home in garbage bags, the drive swaps those bags for backpacks and suitcases.

“In 10 years, we’ve collected and distributed more than 30,000 new or nearly new bags to Georgia’s foster children,” said Wendy Hawke Lenz, the practice’s chief operating officer.

Totes was originally held on Martin Luther King Day as a way to honor King’s vision and give back to the community. But it’s now held on the Friday before MLK Day as a kickoff to a weekend of service, Lentz said.

“We believe that we honor Dr. King’s dream as we provide tangible reminders to the more than 8,000 foster children in our state that someone cares about them,” she said.

The practice works with local Department of Family and Children Services offices to distribute the bags to local children.

“All bags collected in a certain county stay in that county,” Lenz said.

Clyde Reese, commissioner of DFACS parent agency, the Georgia Department of Human Services, said a donated tote not only carries a child’s possessions, it builds that child’s self-esteem.

“A bag may seem like a small matter but it is most definitely more,” he said in a news release. “Those in the community who donate to this worthy cause help to bring some measure of comfort and respect to the children.”

Serving the homeless

Also today in Marietta, volunteers from the Cobb branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, co-founded by King, will provide comfort and respect to homeless people.

“We are moving into MLK Day activities beginning with Friday when we serve the homeless at MUST Ministries,” said the Rev. Cheryl Graves of Emmanuel Tabernacle Christian Church, where the Cobb SCLC is headquartered.

Graves, widow of SCLC leader the Rev. Dwight Graves, said her church will also host activities Saturday and Sunday.

“Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. we’re going to have a Youth Speak Out,” she said about an oratory contest based on SCLC’s 2013 theme, “Transforming the Dream into Reality — What Is Your Role?”

Sunday at 3 p.m. the church will host a program commemorating Dr. King’s service.

Monday will be the SCLC’s annual parade, starting at the Cobb Civic Center at 1 p.m. and progressing to the Square, in which about 50 floats from veterans’ groups, fraternities and sororities, churches and businesses will participate.

“Then we have a short program at the Square. I’ll say a few words,” Graves said.

Her message may include what the holiday means — a day on, not a day off.

“I think it’s a time to reflect and a time to commemorate Dr. King’s service and what his life stood for,” she said.

She said if King were alive, he would enjoy the day’s events.

“I think he would have loved these activities because, No. 1, we are getting our youth involved,” Graves said about the contest and parade.

As a minister, King would have appreciated the church service, she said, and as a humanitarian he would have pitched in to feed the homeless.

“He was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., (while) helping sanitation workers,” Graves said. “He was about helping people, the less fortunate and those who didn’t have a voice. He was their voice.”

Other MLK events

* Cobb County will hold a tribute to Dr. King’s life and works Monday at 9 a.m., cosponsored by the Cobb NAACP, at the Cobb County Civic Center.

The theme of the free presentation is “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” and will feature various performances from local talent.

* Acworth Parks and Recreation Department will host a ceremony Monday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, followed by the fourth MLK Day of Service at the Roberts School Community and Education Center, including cleanup activities and a tree planting.

* Kennesaw held its commemoration Jan. 12 at Kennesaw Mountain High School, focusing on youth performances of essays, dances and songs on the theme of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

Initiated by Thankful Baptist Church, the service also included the MLK Jr. Trailblazer Awards, given out to college-bound seniors.

“They are named for a man we honor as a trailblazer for racial equality and unity among all men through non-violent means,” the Rev. John W. Harris said in a statement.

All city and county government offices will be closed.

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