Volunteers take meaning of holiday to heart - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Volunteers take meaning of holiday to heart

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-The day we honor slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, is also designated a national day of service. But how do you serve others when most places are closed for the holiday?

That's why the city of West Palm Beach organized a lunch for the homeless and others in need at the Salvation Army Community Center near the downtown. "Many of the volunteers in the community were calling in on Monday of this past week, wanting to know where they could go to volunteer," explained Lela Jordan, the community services manager in the Office of the Mayor.

Jordan enlisted the Salvation Army, and homeless feeding organizations Art and Compassion, and Food Not Bombs. Together they staged the lunch event.

The city put out word volunteers were needed. The response was encouraging. 40 to 50 volunteers showed up to serve meals to about 100 guests. At times there were more volunteers than lunch guests.

Liz McGarr worked signing in volunteers and giving out information to those in need. "Really it's a huge eye opener," said McGarr. "No matter what you read and hear about, you have to see it up front when people are telling you their stories."

That's the whole idea, affirmed Jordan of the mayor's office. "Hopefully they'll meet some of the people who are homeless, people that are in need," said Jordan. "And they'll look at maybe getting involved long term."

Pastor Marvin Smith of Art and Compassion agreed. "That's what Dr. King's life promoted, a life of service to his community," said Pastor Smith. "There's lots of work to be done. Our neighborhoods need to be cleaned. Children need to be mentored."

Volunteer Elliot Crowder says he had the day off and decided to give his time, inspired in part by the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama. "People are just in a positive mood," said Crowder. "It's good to see people of different cultures come out to be a part of something."

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