Quakertown students, others honor King with service projects
Date of publication: January 21, 2018
By Chris English
On a bitterly cold day when schools were closed and she could have slept in, Mikayla Fuentes resisted that urge and climbed out of bed to do her part in honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on the day honoring his life and legacy.
The senior was one of 170 Quakertown Community School District students who gathered at their high school Monday to listen to speakers and participate in voluntary service projects in observance of Martin Luther King Day.
The slain civil rights leader, who would have been 90 this year, must be remembered by words but even more importantly, with actions, she said.
“I really feel like it’s vital to give back,” said Mikayla. “Knowing his (King’s) name and knowing what he did is not enough if we don’t actually do things to carry on his legacy.”
She and several other Quakertown students were drafting cookbooks on their laptops that will be used at Laurel House, a women’s shelter in Norristown, Montgomery County.
“It’s a list of cheaper recipes where they can get the ingredients at food pantries and places like that,” Mikayla explained.
Other service projects at Quakertown Community High School on Monday included putting together plastic Easter eggs filled with candy and other items for the borough’s annual Easter Egg Hunt, and writing letters that will be sent to veterans.
“Overall, I like to help people so I felt it was important to come here today,” Quakertown freshman Brooke Ziemba said. “I’m sure it’s what he (King) would want.”
In addition to those who stayed at the high school, other Quakertown students left after the speeches to help with service projects at Allentown’s Sixth Street Shelter, Family Service Association of Bucks County, the Quakertown and Trumbauersville food pantries and other locations.
School district officials decided to close schools and encourage volunteer service after a decision to hold school on Martin Luther King Day last year to make up a snow day drew some criticism.
“You didn’t have to be here, but you chose to be because you understand the historical significance of this day,” the Rev. Gregory James Edwards, founder and senior pastor at the Resurrected Community Church in Allentown, told the Quakertown students Monday. He is considered an MLK scholar, school district officials said.
Edwards urged students to always step up and “interrupt” racist conversation or actions whenever they hear or see them.
“Now is not the time to worship his words but ignore his actions,” Edwards said of King. “Now is the time to take a side. Now is the time to have courage.”
The theme of giving back while honoring King was repeated at other locations around the area Friday and Monday.
In the Council Rock School District on Monday, about 300 student volunteers came to Council Rock High School South in Northampton to listen to speakers and announcements on the winners of the district’s annual MLK essay contest.
Afterward, students assembled CR CARES packages of food and other items, friendship cards and blankets for local and international distribution to those in need. It is the 13th straight year Council Rock has held a voluntary day of service on Martin Luther King Day.
Students from Maple Point Middle School and Neshaminy High School in Middletown on Monday compiled about 1,600 “blessing bags” from thousands of items donated by the community for Angels in Motion, a nonprofit that reaches out to those struggling with addiction and living on the street. The group hopes its outreach will steer those in need to treatment.
Fifth-graders from all 10 Pennsbury School District elementary schools will gather at Pennsbury High School East in Falls on Thursday to assemble packages of various items to be donated to St. Mary Medical Center, Lower Bucks Homeless Shelter and other organizations. The event was originally scheduled for Monday but was pushed back because of the forecast for inclement weather over the weekend.
Students and staff at all three Bristol Township elementary schools — Brookwood, Keystone and Mill Creek — held their Super Hero days on Friday. Staff and students were encouraged to dress like super heroes and donate $2. The proceeds were donated to area organizations serving those in need.
At Bridle Path Elementary in the North Penn School District on Friday, students assembled breakfast bags of granola bars, fruit and other items to be distributed to area families in need.
Central Bucks students were among many who were scheduled to join the Second Baptist Church of Doylestown’s event on Monday to listen to speeches honoring King and take part in service projects, but due to the threat of bad weather the day was postponed until Feb. 18.