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5 Jan 2018

A national record 150,000 volunteers expected for 23rd Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service

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January 5, 2018 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service and president of Global Citizen Todd Bernstein (at podium) speaks to volunteers at last year’s event.

Organizers, sponsors, and community partners joined together today in a ceremony at Girard College to announce plans for the upcoming 23rd annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. Girard College will serve as the region’s signature project site for the ninth successive year.

Founder and director Todd Bernstein, who is also president of Global Citizen, announced that a national record 150,000 volunteers are expected to participate in more than 1,800 community service projects throughout the region on the Monday, January 15 King federal holiday.

The Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  Participants will include students of all ages from public, private, and parochial schools, colleges, senior citizens, community, religious, civic and non-profit organizations, businesses, military veterans, AmeriCorps members, elected officials and families.

The national King Day of Service was created in 1994 through federal legislation co-authored by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, both veterans of the civil rights movement with Dr. King.

The 23rd annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service will highlight the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign. “Today, fifty years after Dr. King launched the Poor People’s campaign, 60 percent more Americans– more than 41 million people– live in poverty,” said Bernstein. “If we are to solve this growing problem, we must embrace Dr. King’s living legacy by turning our concerns into collective action, not just on King Day, but everyday.”

Highlighting some 5,000 volunteers who are expected to serve in more than one hundred King Day of Service projects, workshops, and presentations at the Girard College signature project site, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will lead volunteers sorting and packing food, which will be distributed to people in-need through more than five hundred Philadelphia-area non-profit organizations. Volunteers will also be constructing grow light stands for cultivating seedlings, building pallet gardens- repurposed pallets to make vertical garden planters that can sustain plants, and creating compost bins. The signature project is sponsored by Target, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Share Food Program, Home Depot, Habitat for Humanity, Aramark and the Philadelphia Beverage Association.

Wells Fargo will present volunteers sorting clothing for low-income job seekers, donated by Men’s Wearhouse.  PECO will present volunteers, working with Career Wardrobe, creating inspirational cards and packing toiletry kits for people in-need.

The Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters, the group of men and women who demonstrated in the 1960’s for an end to the discriminatory admissions policies at Girard College, will lead a workshop, sharing their experiences in the civil rights movement.

“We are delighted to serve as the host for the nation’s largest MLK Day of Service for the ninth consecutive year,” said Ava Willis-Barksdale, interim president of Girard College. “As this year’s focus reflects on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, which, in part, suggested that all people should have what they need to live, we are proud to participate.  We believe that Stephen Girard also had this concept in mind in his desire to provide education to children for whom it was not guaranteed.”

The King Day of Service will host its 7th annual Jobs and Opportunity Fair, presented by the Urban League of Philadelphia, i-Heart Media, and Comcast. Five hundred job seekers will be choosing among some twenty-five local employers and AmeriCorps national service programs. Participants must pre-register at for one of two sessions: 9-10:30 am and 10:30-noon. Target will be presenting job readiness advice.

Philadelphia Orchestra Director of Collaborative Learning, Michael Albaugh, attended the news conference to announce a continuing partnership with the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service and Girard College.  The Orchestra will perform their 28th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert, presented by PECO, at 1:30 pm in the Chapel, as the concluding King Day of Service event at Girard College. Free tickets will be available starting January 9 at noon at Patrons may also call Ticket Philadelphia at 215-893-1999 for tickets. Seating will be general admission and is first-come, first-served. Tickets do not guarantee entry and there is a limit of two per person. Doors will open at 1 pm.

More than fifty King Day of Service sponsors include: Global Citizen, Girard College, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Urban Affairs Coalition, Knight Foundation, Points of Light, Target, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, Comcast, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Aramark, American Marketing, Beverage Association of Philadelphia, Vanguard, Wells Fargo, PECO, League Collegiate Outfitters, The Philadelphia Foundation, Drexel University, Men’s Wearhouse, School District of Philadelphia, Temple University, Gateway Health, Independence Blue Cross, Moravia Health, Cozen O’Connor, FS Investments, Philadelphia Orchestra, Share Food Program, Ready Willing and Able, Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, Philadelphia Media Network, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, Corporation for National and Community Service, High Point Café, 900AM-WURD, Spikes, City of Philadelphia, SERVE Philadelphia, PennSERVE: The Governor’s Office of Citizen Service, Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books, City Year, Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney presented the 20th annual Harris Wofford Active Citizenship Award to Rev. David Brown, assistant professor at Temple University, for his years of steadfast support of the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service and lifelong dedication and commitment to public service and civic engagement.

Global Citizen, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Points of Light, the Urban Affairs Coalition, Knight Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, PECO and Serve Philadelphia will present a Civic Engagement Expo that will provide information on the mission and work of dozens of local community organizations and opportunities to volunteer with these groups throughout the year.   

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. will present a Health and Wellness Fair, that will feature a CPR training presented by the Philadelphia Fire Department, with dozens more organizations providing expert advice, testing, and screening in areas including cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, eating disorders and fitness.

Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church will present a Kid’s Carnival for children ages of 5-12 that will include story reading about Dr. King, I Have A Dream mobile-making, skits on Dr. King and civil rights, entertainment and more.  A King Day of Service coloring and activity book will be available for children to learn about Dr. King’s ideals of civil rights and civic responsibilities. The City Commissioner’s office will help future voters try out the first responsibility of citizenship in a demonstration of voting booths used in real elections.

Thousands of students throughout the area are participating in the tenth annual One King Day, One King Book project to encourage children to read, write, and discuss essays about Dr. King. Children have been submitting essays and will receive a King Day of Service certificate.

There will be projects at hundreds of schools in Philadelphia and throughout the region. Volunteers will beautify dozens of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation facilities.  The Philadelphia Fire Department is organizing neighborhood outreach projects on fire safety through all sixty-three fire stations.

Other King Day of Service volunteers will prepare food at homeless shelters and distribute meals to homebound seniors, organize health fairs and legal clinics, and perform plays about Dr. King and his principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality.

The news conference included the unveiling of a dramatic King Day of Service mural painted by students from six-area schools. Mural Arts Philadelphia led the annual project in which each school created a 5’ x 6’ canvas mural highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign and the importance of the First Amendment.

   After completing the murals in late December, the panels were attached to form a single, panoramic 35’ x 5’ mural. The mural will be on display January 15 at Girard College.  Participating schools and the Mural Arts Philadelphia artists who worked with the students are (left to right):

  • Girard College, Philadelphia, Doug Woodsey
  • Shepherd Elementary School, Philadelphia, Willis Humphrey
  • Barack Hebrew Academy, Montgomery County, David McShane
  • Rosa International Middle School, Camden County, New Jersey, Nathaniel Lee
  • Woodlynde School, Chester County, Willis Humphrey
  • Al-Aqsa Islamic Academy, Philadelphia, Parris Stancell

The 2018 King Day of Service is co-chaired by Mayor Jim Kenney; Michael DiCandilo, interim president & CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey; former Pennsylvania US Senator Harris Wofford; Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church; Ava Willis-Barksdale, interim president of Girard College; Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia; Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition; David L. Cohen, executive vice president, Comcast Corporation; Richard Ross, commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department; Adam Thiel, commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department;  Pedro Ramos, president and chief executive officer of The Philadelphia Foundation; Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO; the Honorable Ida Chen, judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; Ed Hazzouri, chairman of Hazzouri & Associates and Rev. Bonnie Camarda, president of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia.

Updated information on service opportunities is available on Facebook– and Twitter– The hashtag is #MLKDAY2018.

Global Citizen organizes the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service and year-round civic engagement programs.  Anyone or group interested in volunteering or hosting a service project should register at or call 215-851-1811.  All organizations or groups planning projects are encouraged to register them at or 215-851-1811.

Organizations interested in becoming sponsors of the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service and Global Citizen should contact Todd Bernstein at [email protected] or 215-242-9070.                                   

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