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BY: Maya Earls

Schools and federal buildings may be closed Monday, Jan. 16, but plenty of activities and volunteer opportunities are available and accessible in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

The Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, hosted by Global Citizen and generally the largest event for King Day in the nation, will return for its 22nd year. This year’s focus is educational justice. About 145,000 people are expected to participate in 1,800 volunteering events across the city with Girard College serving as the main project site.

About 100 activities will take place at the college, including a Jobs and Opportunity Fair, a kids carnival and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 27th annual King Tribute Concert. 

Mayor Jim Kenney will participate by leading a group of volunteers in creating book shelves called “book nooks,” for a project sponsored by Read by 4th. The nooks will hold 18,000 books donated by Scholastic Press. Eventually finding a home in barber shops, nail salons and laundromats, the book nooks will operate as local mini libraries.

Volunteers for the Day of Service will wear t-shirts with the image of King speaking outside the grounds of Girard College in 1965 on the front. Murals created by local students for the Day of Service will be also displayed inside Girard College.

More information about volunteer opportunities, to go mlkdayofservice.org.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence will again host its 35th annual National Bell Ringing Ceremony, followed by an annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon.

Participants will gather at the Liberty Bell, where U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Congressman Dwight Evans and other officials are expected to be present for the ringing precisely at noon.

Shortly after the bell ringing, the association will host the Awards and Benefit Luncheon at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia Hotel. The 2017 drum major honorees include Pedro Ramos, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, and Dr. Arthur C. Evans, commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services. Long-term volunteers Lillie Oliver and Howard P. Mallard, Jr. will both receive an award for their work helping the association “Keep the Dream Alive.”

Former corporate executive and attorney Charisse Lillie will serve as the luncheon chair. CBS 3 News Anchor Natasha Brown will serve as the luncheon’s mistress of ceremonies. Musical guests include the Pine Forge Academy and the Jubilee Bell Ringers.

Tickets and additional information is available online at philadelphiamlk.org.

The MLK Dare Coalition will host a “A March for a Better America,” for which thousands are expected to march against “right-wing extremism on Monday in a protest hosted by the Martin Luther King Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment Coalition. 

The coalition is made of 30 organizations including Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. During the march, organizers will unveil a 21st Century Declaration of Rights.

Some of the rights listed include the right to a fully funded public education, the right to affordable and quality healthcare and the right to a representative democracy, according to Rev. Greg Holston. Holston, pastor of New Vision Methodist and leader of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), helped develop the declaration.

The African American Museum of Philadelphia will host a full day events on Jan. 16, surrounding the theme, “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?”

The day’s events start at 10 a.m. with a scavenger hunt and interactive museum exhibit. Later, the museum will host a variety of workshops including a Hip Hop Dance workshop with Roger Lee Arts. Activities for younger children include face painting and animal balloons. Performances include the Village of Arts and Humanities Young Artists Ensemble, Sister Cities GirlChoir and a jazz concert.

Museum admission is reduced to $2 for all guests the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. Guests are encouraged to give back and bring canned goods and new school supplies to the museum. A full list of scheduled events is available at aampmuseum.org/mlk2017.

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