After a two-year hiatus due to COVID restrictions, the in-person version of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Afternoon of Service" made a triumphant return to Lower Merion School District as hundreds of students, parents, staff and community members gathered in the Lower Merion High School cafeteria to celebrate the life and works of the late, great civil rights leader.
This annual event aims to reinforce the importance of helping and serving others, a foundational conviction shared by both Dr. King and LMSD, whose motto, which is literally carved in stone, is Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve. This initiative is also one of many organized by the District that strives to build belonging and foster safe, supportive and inclusive environments where everyone feels welcome. #LMSDBuildingBelonging
The cafeteria was jam-packed with volunteers from student, parent and community groups who organized an array of fun and engaging service-related activities for children of all ages.
- The Gladwyne Home & School Association (HSA) collected and sorted toiletries and created cards for Broad St. Ministries, which provides access to life-sustaining services for 7,000+ individuals-in-need in Philadelphia each year.
- The Merion HSA created animal toys for the Providence Animal Shelter and Morris Animal Refuge, a pair of animal welfare organizations committed to saving (animal) lives and finding positive and humane outcomes for animals-in-need.
- The Welsh Valley HSA created Get Well cards and friendship bracelets for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
- The Penn Wynne HSA created cards to be distributed in the food boxes delivered by the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA), which serves more than 6,200 diverse, low-income individuals throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.
- The Cynwyd HSA organized a clothing drive benefiting Mitzvah Circle and the Northlight Community Center, which provide critical services and resources to those-in-need.
- The Belmont Hills HSA created Blizzard Bags full of emergency supplies of food and other important items for the elderly who receive services from the New Horizons Senior Center.
- Volunteers from Black Rock Middle School put together Care Kits for the homeless, which contain a variety of toiletries, food items and more that would be of great help to those living on the margins.
- Harriton had several groups on hand, including Student Council, which put together Valentine’s Snack Bags for the Bethesda Project, as well as buildOn and the POWER Scholars, who each coordinated a bake sale to raise funds for charitable causes.
- Lower Merion was well-represented as the Student Council created heartwarming greeting cards to be distributed at local senior citizen centers. They also helped attendees play an online interactive vocabulary game in which players donate grains of rice to the World Food Programme (WFP) every time they answer a question correctly.
- Volunteers from Bala Cynwyd Middle School organized a Dream Flag activity, inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes, where children share their positive hopes for the world on creatively-decorated flags.
- Volunteers from Penn Valley Elementary School collected and sorted clothes that were donated to Cradles to Crayons. They also made cards with kind messages that would be distributed to individuals and families who received items from Cradles to Crayons.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who worked to make this year's Afternoon of Service a tremendous success and to all of the students, parents and community members who came out to support the event! To view a slideshow of images, click through below!