SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Community Coalition on Race (CCR) is holding its 17th annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a full day of free events open to all.

Here are scheduled events for Monday, Jan. 15:

  • Interfaith Observance at 2 p.m. at the Columbia High School auditorium (17 Parker Ave., Maplewood) Hundreds of SOMA residents and friends from neighboring communities are expected to gather to honor Dr. King through music, a sharing of interfaith readings, and an affirmation of Dr. King's call to action and service. The keynote speaker is long-time civil rights activist Larry Hamm, the founding chairman of the People's Organization for Progress in Newark. Hamm has been a "relentless advocate for African American people and the cause of human rights for more than 30 years," according to the CCR.
     
  • Volunteer Fair at Columbia High School at 3:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. The Volunteer Fair will showcase local service organizations that offer opportunities for residents to give back to the community by volunteering on the spot or in the future, stated event organizers.

    Participants are asked to please bring donations of food pantry items such as [hot & cold cereals (low-sugar), shelf-safe milk, pasta (whole wheat or regular), pasta Sauce (in cans), tuna (in water), low-salt canned vegetables, chili or soup, canned fruit (in juice, not syrup), peanut butter (glass jars preferred), rice (1 lb. bags), beans (canned or dried)], knitting yarn, old eyeglasses, children's books(K-5th grade) and travel-sized toiletry donations (bar soap, lotions, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair products for all hair types).

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  • MLK Luminary Lighting Ceremony in South Orange's Spiotta Park and at Maplewood Town Hall at 4:45 p.m. As part of the MLK Luminary Project, participants will gather at either Spiotta Park in South Orange with Village President Sheena Collum, or in front of Town Hall in Maplewood with Mayor Victor DeLuca for the lighting of the Luminaries, which are decorated white bags with votive candles inside. They will be illuminated at 5 p.m. in both locations as a "sign of hope, sanctuary, peace, and solidarity with Dr. King's vision of the Beloved Community," according to event organizers.
  • Bells will toll from places of worship in SOMA at 5 p.m. to remind families to light up the outside of their homes with Luminaries, said organizers.

The MLK Luminary Project's goal is for 1,000 homes in South Orange and Maplewood to be lit up, stated organizers, who also asked for participants to share images of their luminaries on social media using hashtags #SOMALuminaries and #LetThereBeLight

The Luminaries come four in a pack for a suggested donation of $10 and it is a fundraiser for the CCR. Luminaries can be purchased at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, Sparkhouse toy store in South Orange or at CCR's office at 516 Prospect Street, in Maplewood.

This year is the 50th commemoration of Dr. King's assassination.