uac011211001.gif Martin Luther King Day was signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan. It was first observed in 1986. Because some states resisted observing the holiday or combined it with other holidays it was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000. Since then, it has become more and more a day about individuals giving back to their communities rather than just having a day off work, and according to Dr. Larry Wright Sr., president of the Fayetteville/ Cumberland County Ministerial Council (FCCMC) and senior pastor at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries that is just the way Dr. King would have preferred it.

“When they awarded this holiday, Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, came out and made a statement that she would rather this be a day on than a day off (because of all the work that was put in and all the suffering and things they went through during the civil rights movement) instead of just going to the breakfast and eating and then going home and going to sleep,” said Wright. “I feel that would be an injustice to the legacy of such a great man who worked so hard for equality for all mankind.”

That is just what the FCCMC has in mind this year. They’ve registered with the National MLK Day of Service, which will be held on Jan. 17, and they aim to reach out and touch the community in a variety of ways.

One of the easiest ways to help it to bring nonperishable food items to the breakfast.

“Second Harvest, will be there with containers and a truck to collect the donations and use them to restock,” said Wright. “We are also doing a community clean up on Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway. We are doing a blood drive, there will be a group visiting the veterans home and possibly some other homes where we can spend time with retirees. We’ve also got a letter writing campaign going where people will be writing letters of thanks and encouragement to deployed military members.”

Vikki Andrews is the Cumberland County Day of Service chair/coordinator. Not only is she taking registration for volunteers for events that are already planned, she is also ready to add any groups or volunteer organizations to the Day of Service event.

“If there are any groups out there that maybe were planning to volunteer or have an event on a different day but would be willing to change it to Jan. 17, they can email me and I’d be glad to register them with us in the National Day of Service Registry,” said Andrews. “Or if they want to plan something right now they can contact us and we’d love to have them join us.”

Get involved at cumberlandcountydayofservice@gmail.com.

While Martin Luther King Jr. is a great inspiration and volunteering a few hours of time in his honor is commendable, Wright and the FCCMC are aiming to keep the momentum going throughout the year.

In fact, they are already working on the homeless problem in the area and are also reaching out to the local schools.

“This year we did a thing called Hunger and Homeless Stand Down. We, and sever01-12-11-leadership-shake.gifal other organizations that we partner with, helped about 800 people in November — which is national homeless month — and we did a great event at the VFW on Ramsey Street,” said Wright. “We also hope to partner with the schools for churches to adopt schools to help in any way we can as far as mentoring and being there for support for children. We have a lot of kids in our schools who are homeless and don’t get the proper food and nourishment they need, you have kids with no father figure in their lives, no role models. We want to meet them at their point of stress or concern and help motivate them and see if we can do anything to get that child inspired to do better in school.”

There are so many good causes, so many in need and so much work to be done that Wright is putting out a call to our community’s Christian churches to step up, pull together and overcome their differences in the interest of bettering this particular corner of the world.

“It is time for us to get out of our comfort zones, to get up off our seats and to get out into our community. I believe that God is a God of action and I know he is a God of results and a God of passion,” said Wright. “I make an appeal to all of our community leaders, politicians, business people and clergy to begin to look to see what areas in our community that you can be involved in and have a positive impact in. Partner with them. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and we don’t have to stop doing what we are doing but I think we can have a greater impact if we are doing it together. Let’s put aside our differences in our doctrinal beliefs and come together for the greater cause of humanity. Now is the time. Now is the season. If we don’t’ do it now, then when? If you don’t do it, who is going to do it?”

The 18th Annual Prayer Breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is on Monday, Jan. 17 from 7:30 -10 a.m. at the Crown Expo Center and will be followed immediately by the National Day of Service activities. A $20 donation is requested at he door. Billy Taylor, executive manager of Goodyear Corporation, Fayetteville will be the keynote speaker. Visit www.ministriescouncil.net to find out more.

 Photo: People working together to better their community is what the National Day of Service is all

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