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MLK Day: Families Make Food and Collect Clothing for Homeless and Needy

While many opportunities exist for people to give back to their communities, many times, kids, especially little ones, are barred from participation because of liability concerns.

Students from several schools in Atlanta and their parents make sandwiches at Drew Charter in East Lake Monday as part of a Hop Skip & Serve community give-back event. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
Students from several schools in Atlanta and their parents make sandwiches at Drew Charter in East Lake Monday as part of a Hop Skip & Serve community give-back event. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
EAST LAKE — The lunchroom at Drew Charter School was a virtual assembly line of good will Monday as students, their parents and other community members gathered to commemorate the Martin Luther King holiday by giving back.

They came together to collect clothes and make sandwiches for the homeless and to distribute at area shelters and homeless camps on interstates.

The work was organized by Erica Jong and El Baker, the co-founders of Hop Skip & Serve, a which focuses on coordinating community service projects, particularly for kids and their families.

Jong said while many opportunities exist for people to give back to their communities, many times kids, especially little ones, are barred from participation because of liability concerns.

Hop Skip & Serve aims to give youngsters opportunities to give back in settings that let them work alongside their families, Jong said.

It also helps them understand the seriousness of hunger and homelessness in metro Atlanta while giving them a concrete, direct way to do their part to contribute.

Indeed, some 10,000 people are homeless on any given night in metro Atlanta, with 40 percent of thoe being women and children, HomeAid Atlanta, a local non-profit.

Those are daunting statistics, but Jong said it's important for her children and other kids to develop an understanding that they have a duty to help others in need any way they can.

"Every little bit helps," she said.

It explained the scores of kids and parents who spent Monday morning into the early afternoon working for the cause.

Students and parents from Drew, Wesley International Academy, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter, Parkside Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy put together more than 4,000 meals to distribute to the needy.

They also had help from students from Morehouse College, such as Maalik Nicherson, a sophomore majoring in political science.

For him and is fellow college mates, working on the project was a way to put King's mantra of service to others into practice, he said.

King is a graduate of Morehouse and public service is stressed at the school.

"It's important to come out and serve and engage the next generation of leaders," Nickerson said, adding it gave him and his fellow Morehouse students the additional opportunity to serve as mentors to the younger kids and community building.

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