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Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service continues with modifications amid pandemic

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Brynlee Hancock, 13, pulls weeds while volunteering, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Childhaven in Farmington.

AZTEC — As San Juan County residents remember Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18, some of them will dedicate their time to serving the community.

The annual Martin Luther King Day of Service traditionally brings a crowd together to reflect during an inter-faith, non-denominational service before dispersing to various locations to perform service projects. But this year will have a slightly different feel. The inter-faith service will be conducted virtually at 10 a.m. Jan. 18 on YouTube. Then people will individually or as families participate in service projects to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Megan Cullip, who is one of the organizers this year, has created a website, megancullip.wixsite.com/mlk2021, that includes ideas for service projects. These include writing letters to healthcare workers or cancer patients, donating food to food banks and cleaning up local parks.

“All of those things were projects that we did in the past in person,” Cullip said.

Volunteers put together notes and bags for children in foster care, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at First Presbyterianism Church in Farmington.

She said the cleanup projects have been one of the most popular service projects in the past.

Cullip says she plans to do all three types of recommended service projects over the course of the week.

“The other thing about this year is that we wanted to make sure that people knew that you don’t have to do it exactly on that day,” she said. “You can be inspired and be guided to some good projects, but it’s not like you have to complete them or do them on MLK Day.”

Genevieve Paul, 14, and Juliette Paul, 11, remove a bush, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, from the Childhaven grounds during the Four Corners Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Farmington.

Cullip said she thinks the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is an opportunity to expand perspective, which she said is really important this year amid the pandemic.

“MLK himself talks about how we’re all linked together...if someone suffers, then we’re all suffering,” she said.

Cullip said even though the COVID-19 pandemic has kept people apart, “there’s always a way that you can serve your neighbor. There’s always a way that we can love each other.”

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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Hazel Paul, Noah Paul and Eliza Paul rake leaves, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, while volunteering during the Four Corners Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Childhaven in Farmington.