Community organizations work together to feed the hungry on MLK Day

Mount Mercy University, Coe College and United Way of East Central Iowa are partnering with the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) and Kids Against Hunger to help feed the hungry for this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

Each year, the third Monday in January is designated as MLK Day, the only federal holiday observed as a day of service. This holiday is meant to honor the commitment to service and community exemplified in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Across the nation, individuals and groups choose to make this "a day on, not a day off" by volunteering time normally spent at school or work to community projects.

One of the main concerns of Dr. King's life and work was to encourage individuals to strengthen their communities by working together for a common goal. This January, area non-profits, businesses and other organizations are following Dr. King's example by encouraging the Cedar Rapids community to meet the needs of the hungry in our area.

Opportunities to Serve
Participate in the Food Drive: Hunger knows every season. While many families receive food assistance over the holidays, donations tend to drop off after the holidays. Help keep area food pantries stocked this winter by donating non-perishable food items for a food drive. All donations will benefit the HACAP food reservoir to support area food pantries. Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

Mount Mercy University
January 14 – 20
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
1330 Elmhurst Dr. NE, Busse Hall

Coe College
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
January 14 – 20
1220 1st Avenue NE, Lower Gage Memorial Union

Linn County Public Health
January 14 – 18 and January 21
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
501 13th Street NW

United Way of East Central Iowa
January 21
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
317 7th Avenue SE

Goodwill Stores
January 21
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
5520 Council Street NE, Cedar Rapids
2000 Scotty Drive SW, Cedar Rapids
3203 7th Avenue, Marion

Helping Kids Against Hunger: The Mount Mercy chapter of Kids Against Hunger will be hosting a food packaging event on Monday, January 21, from 9:00 a.m. – noon in Betty Cherry Heritage Hall. Kids Against Hunger is a national organization, which works to address food security issues both in the United States and around the world. To help feed the most people possible, they rely on local chapters to package bulk food shipments that can then be sent directly to those most in need. Because they rely so heavily on donations and volunteers, they are able to supply nutritious and filling meals at about 23 cents each.

Coe College Civil Rights Documentary: Coe College welcomes the community to a civil rights movie event on January 21. The documentary, Half the Sky, highlights women in 10 countries, mostly impoverished, and observes the limited rights of women across the globe. The event will take place at Stewart Memorial Library, 1220 1st Avenue, with showings at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Take Part in the "What's Your 50?" Challenge: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is this: 'What are you doing for others?'" – Dr. Martin Luther King

The Martin Luther King Day of Service is not intended to be a one day only event. It is a reminder that creating a caring and supportive community means working to meet daily needs as well as finding long-term solutions for social problems and empowering individuals to take ownership of their role in those solutions. This is not something that happens overnight, but requires continual and thoughtful action.

Volunteer Iowa has put out a call to service for all Iowans, asking everyone to volunteer 50 hours this year to service. Although many Iowans currently volunteer a few hours a year, studies have shown that volunteers serving 50 hours a year not only saw greater personal benefit in serving, but actually created longer-term solutions for the problems in their communities.

To find volunteer opportunities in your area, go to www.unitedwayofeastcentraliowa.org.

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