SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The seventh annual Martin Luther King Day of Service drew several hundred volunteers to more than two dozen events throughout Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Monday. Volunteers and organizers viewed it as "a day on, not a day off" by taking part in a wide range of activities to help others.
There was something for everyone, as kids made cards for other kids who are sick, made sandwiches for the homeless and drew Valentines for the troops. Adults gave blood, made mittens from old sweaters, took part in a round-table discussion and contributed by donating clothes and sneakers for the less fortunate.
The day-long event was organized by Michele Shapiro Abraham, Courtney Agnello and Amanda Barnett, three Fanwood women who started the event seven years ago and have organized it ever since.
At the MLK Day opening ceremony held at the JCC, speakers included Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover, Union County Freeholder Al Mirabella, Assemblyman Jim Kennedy, and Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom, among others. It included the presentation of the inaugural MLK Day of Service award to Leland McGee of Social Justice Matters and a stirring performance of "We Shall Overcome" by the Terrill Middle School choir.
"Dr. King said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.' Leland McGee is one of those dedicated individuals," said Rabbi Joel Abraham. "(He is) tireless and passionate in his pursuit of human progress. It is with great humility and joy that we honor Leland S. McGee as the inaugural Scotch PlainsFanwood Martin Luther King Day of Service awardee."