MLK Day of Service is one of the most popular service days in American culture. This year, UNCG celebrated Dr. King’s legacy by volunteering with 13 partner organizations, including BackPack Beginnings. When planning this year’s MLK Day, the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning chose to focus on Dr. King’s idea of the beloved community. This concept of the beloved community is founded on the ideal world, one in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.

To Martin Luther King Jr, this dream was not Utopian, but a realistic goal achievable through the act of giving, attempts at understanding, and love for community service. With the ideal of the beloved community in mind, 72 UNCG students came to the BackPack Beginnings warehouse for this year’s “day on” instead of a “day off”. The students packed over 200 food bags, organized the food pantry storage, sorted over 800 pounds of incoming donations, and checked hundreds of prepackaged food bags. Through their service, hundreds of local children will have better access to nutritious food. The students completed all this work joyfully, as they danced, sang, and laughed with one another during their service.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA who desires to work in a nonprofit as a career, days of service like MLK Day give me so much hope. To see those students working on a national holiday to make the world a better place for local children made me think about how every day America is getting closer to Dr. King’s ideal of the beloved community. With every bag packed, every can checked, and every box lifted, we are just get closer to having little boys and little girls join hands as sisters and brothers – happy, healthy, and well-fed.

Written on 1/19/2016 by AmeriCorps VISTA, Allison Plitman.