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How 1,000 Volunteers Joined United Way to Honor Dr. King

Audrey Johnson and Briell McCoy love giving back to their community. Wanting to get involved through service during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the friends spent an afternoon volunteering with United Way of Central Carolinas.


“Part of Dr. King’s message is that we should all serve,” Johnson said. “We really love these projects; it’s all about duty and service and respect.”


The women were among the 1,000 volunteers who answered the call on January 18, 2020 to give back to the greater Charlotte community while celebrating the life, legacy and vision of Dr. King during the annual United Way MLK Call to Service. The family friendly community event is part of United Way’s commitment to championing equity and inclusion in our community.


“The MLK holiday has been a nationally recognized day of service since 1983, and we believe that a community coming together in the spirit of his legacy has great relevance in our community today,” said Laura Yates Clark, United Way’s President and CEO. “Dr. King believed in equal rights, justice and economic opportunity for all, and these are issues we all still care about in Charlotte.”


This year, the event was held in partnership with The Park Church at The Park Expo & Conference Center in Charlotte. It featured a variety of hands-on service-learning projects and educational activities for children, individuals, families and groups centered on the holiday that bears the civil rights leader’s name.


“We are about reconciliation, we are about building relationships, we are about unity, we are about promoting positivity,” said the Rev. Jacotron Potts of The Park Church. “We’re excited to see all the volunteers in this place doing great work and we are happy to align and partner with United Way.”


Volunteer projects during this year’s MLK Call to Service included creating number and alphabet flash cards for Classroom Central, writing encouragement cards for Love In Action Project, assembling no-sew baby blankets for Baby Bundles and designing bookmarks for Promising Pages. These service projects were sponsored by Duke Energy and facilitated by Boy Scouts of Charlotte Troop 33.


“This event is such a good time, and there’s all kinds of organizations that have come under one roof so you can really help several different places all at one time,” said Kimmie Miller, a volunteer who joined her Atrium Health co-workers at the event.


Among the other activities were a nonprofit agency informational area, a technology drive to benefit Informative Technologies, Inc., a blood donation drive with OneBlood and a kids activity zone hosted by Jack & Jill of America, Charlotte Chapter. United Way also hosted interactive poverty simulation exercises designed to educate participants to the realities faced by our neighbors who confront generational poverty in disregarded neighborhoods.


While MLK Call to Service delivers valuable assistance to nonprofit organizations, schools and other service providers, it also allows volunteers to reflect on the meaning of Dr. King’s life of service and move closer to his vision of a connected community where we each reach our full potential.


“We talk a lot in this country about what divides us,” Clark said. “But I look around this event today and I see hundreds of people choosing to Live United.”



Want to see more photos from the event? View our album here.


Watch WSOC-TV’s coverage of MLK Call to Service here.