Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Throwback Post: Face Paint, Bingo, and Books - MLK Day of Service

*Throwback Post #18*

Every year in January, a day is set aside to focus on serving the community and those around you. This day falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and is known as the MLK Day of Service (appropriate name, I know). Every year for MLK Day, AmeriCorps takes the opportunity to further help those in Palm Beach County by participating in an event in the community. This year, though, we decided to host our own event and create it from scratch.

Back in December, a small group of us from the Service Project group started brainstorming ideas for what we wanted to do for MLK Day. These meetings quickly translated into the fact that we wanted to run and create our own event and not piggyback off of another event already in place. The search for a venue to host this proved to be a bit of a challenge, as many of the organizations and schools were closed on MLK Day.

Despite these challenges, we were able to secure a place with a site that used to have an AmeriCorps volunteer at it called Bridges @ Highland Elementary. Bridges is an organization that works with the Hispanic and Creole population in Palm Beach County, providing them services and childcare throughout the day and after school. Luckily, Jaime (the director of Bridges) was super excited to have AmeriCorps back at Bridges and the opportunity to work with us again.

Finally, following multiple meetings, the gathering of materials, creating sample crafts, cutting until hands were sore and cramping, the day of the event arrived. All 40 of our members arrived at Bridges around 9:00, helped unload tables and chairs, and proceeded to set up the various stations and literacy activities that the committee had planned and put together. Lunch was assembled, crafts supplies were laid out, and water cups were filled as we anxiously awaited for kids and their families to show up.

One of the highlights of the day was the multiple games of literacy Bingo that were played. All of the kids and the families that played thoroughly enjoyed the game and the prizes that went out to the winners. We were able to give away school supply kits (provided by The Lord's Place), books about Martin Luther King, and even a soccer ball and basketball (courtesy of the Mandel Public Library). The other highlight was listening to one of our members, Jaron, do a read-aloud of three different books with the kids. The energy and enthusiasm that he implored into the reading of those books was great and really was a great way to end a successful day!

To end the event, we held a raffle, in which we gave away about 25 various raffle prizes, ranging from book bundles to a Super Bowl starter kit to school supplies and other helpful items for school and beyond. Before every child went home, they were also given a book to take with them. This brought plenty of smiles and joy to their little faces. All of the hard work that was put into the event was definitely worth it!
Minus the brief rain shower that drove a few of our members running to the cover of the pavilion we were using, the event went without a hitch. The kids and families that attended had a great time and the members were able to interact with a different set of students than they normally work with at their sites. Another successful service project in the books!

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