Arlington Heights community celebrates MLK Day through service projects

PADS Meal Prep at MLK Day of Service

It was a day of coming together at the Makerplace on Monday, January 15 as more than 85 people participated in hands-on service projects for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 

Community members created dog and cat toys for The Buddy Foundation, put together no-sew blankets for Project Linus, wrote letters for residents at Luther Village, and prepared a taco casserole and an oatmeal chocolate chip bake during a PADS Meal Prep made possible through a partnership with First Presbyterian Church. 

“I knew we wanted to do something to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a service event and this made it super easy for us,” said participant Valerie Zanchettin, as she put together blankets with her two children, Julia and Miles. “We learned a little bit about Martin Luther King and his principles before we came and then we talked about how events like this help build our community. I also love being here with lots of other people from the community and talking to them while we’re helping others.” 

Throughout the day, Arlington Heights residents of all ages worked together, each with their own reasons for participating. 

“I’m doing it in honor of my mom. She always volunteered all of her time and tomorrow is the anniversary of her birthday and she passed away two years ago,” Diane Boldt said. “I’m doing it [because] I know my mom was always such a giving person.” 

MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers and move us closer to Martin Luther King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.” This is the second year MLK Day of Service has been held in the library’s Makerplace, utilizing its commercial kitchen and additional space to serve the Arlington Heights community. 

“I just think if you get people to do one thing, they get a taste of how good it feels and maybe they’ll do more,” said Helen Gong Weiner as she created letters for Luther Village residents. “I think this exposure to people who normally don’t make the time or have the time to volunteer just opens up the door.” 

“Libraries are gathering spaces and leaders in the community. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library plays an essential role in connecting community members with resources, including through events such as this,” said Programs & Exhibits Specialist Neal Parker. “Supporting Dr. King’s vision of the ‘Beloved Community’ in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate, is critical to the library's mission and commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.”