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Volunteers celebrate MLK Jr.'s legacy through day of service

The annual event was first launched last year

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Volunteers Gwen Tedrow, left, Virginia Polacca, center, and Catherine Walker Grobler, right, assemble Blessing Bags for Aztec Presbyterian Church to distribute to people in need Monday as part of the Four Corners Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the First Presbyterian Church in Farmington.
  • Participants for the second annual Four Corners Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service gathered at the First Presbyterian Church.
  • Volunteers were dispatched to one of 19 service projects across San Juan County.
  • Casseroles were also assembled for future parenting classes held at Childhaven.

FARMINGTON — More than 200 people volunteered today to complete community projects across the county as part of a day of service for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Participants in the second annual Four Corners Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Farmington this morning.

Volunteers were served breakfast and saw a short program that included people reading excerpts from Dr. King's speeches.

After the program, volunteers were dispatched to one of 19 service projects across San Juan County.

Steve Clarke, a member of the committee organizing the event, said he expected the number of volunteers to more than double from the 100 people who volunteered last year.

"I'm overwhelmed by the support of the people in the community," Clarke said.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett was one of the volunteers who showed to the event. He believed the event was a good way to honor Dr. King and his mission.

"We got a great community," Duckett said. "People really care here and they are always looking for opportunities to serve."

The committee tripled the number of projects this year to handle the influx of volunteers.

Some of the projects were held at the church while others included projects at the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington, Family Crisis Center and Masada House, according to committee member Liesl Dees.

Wendy Bircher, a board member for the San Juan chapter of It's My Very Own, shows the contents of a Bag of Love, which is distributed to children who have been displaced from their homes, at First Presbyterian Church in Farmington on Monday. Volunteers at the Four Corners Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service helped write notes for the bags.

The committee organized a variety of indoor and outdoor projects to give volunteers an option to be more active or more sedentary, Dees said.

Volunteers at the church helped assemble "Blessing Bags," bags with snacks, warm clothing and toiletries, for Aztec Presbyterian Church to distribute to people in need.

Casseroles were also assembled for future parenting classes held at Childhaven.

Volunteers also helped the San Juan chapter of the It's My Very Own non-profit organization by handwriting notes which are included in each Bag of Love the nonprofit distributes, according to Co-Director Lillian Clopine.

The Bags of Love contain items like blankets, toys, stuffed animals and personal care items for children who have been displaced from their homes for circumstances including domestic violence or parental drug abuse.

The hand-written notes are included in each duffel bag as a form of encouragement for the children, letting them know people care about their situation, Clopine said.

She added writing the notes for each of the 282 bags distributed last year was time consuming, and she appreciated the community helping the nonprofit.

"It's wonderful to see all these people are anxious to serve our community in some way," Clopine said.

The volunteers were served lunch at the church after finishing their projects.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.