From left, Allyssa Pufahl, 18, of  Waterford; Devin Bowers, 18, of Southfield; Royal Oak Middle School eighth-grader Michael Wasinewski, 13; and Royal Oak Middle School seventh-grader Mia Plancarte, 12, volunteer at the book-sorting table during Royal Oak and Berkley’s joint Martin Luther King  Jr. Day community  service event at Berkley High  School Jan. 15.

From left, Allyssa Pufahl, 18, of Waterford; Devin Bowers, 18, of Southfield; Royal Oak Middle School eighth-grader Michael Wasinewski, 13; and Royal Oak Middle School seventh-grader Mia Plancarte, 12, volunteer at the book-sorting table during Royal Oak and Berkley’s joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School Jan. 15.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Students, community salute MLK with day of service

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 23, 2018

 Max Bowers, 12, a seventh-grader at Norup School in Oak Park, helps sort donations of toothpaste and toothbrushes during Royal Oak and Berkley’s joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School Jan. 15.

Max Bowers, 12, a seventh-grader at Norup School in Oak Park, helps sort donations of toothpaste and toothbrushes during Royal Oak and Berkley’s joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School Jan. 15.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROYAL OAK/BERKLEY — The cities of Royal Oak and Berkley held their second annual joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School Jan. 15.

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids estimated that approximately 350 people participated in the event, and she said that organizers were happily overwhelmed with the amount of donated items.

“We had more people than we had service projects, which is a good thing,” Davids said. “We had (stations for service projects at the school), as well as several off-site things. Everybody was busy. There were lots of children, lots of families.”

The event kicked off with breakfast, remarks from Royal Oak and Berkley officials, a video production by Royal Oak High School students about their ideal society, and student performances that promoted acceptance and diversity, Davids said.

“For many people, it was a day off, but they made it a day on,” Davids said. “There was just a real sense of community, and also, I think, a sense of hope that we can make a difference, if not in the world, then at least in our own backyard.”

Lindsey Klink, of Royal Oak, attended the event with her children — kindergartner Nora, 5, and second-grader Oliver, 7, both students at Northwood Elementary School.

“We’re so fortunate and blessed to have the life that we live, and it’s important that we give back,” Klink said. “They’re so young, but I’m trying to educate them (about accepting everyone). They don’t see color.”

Klink said she attended the event with her neighbor and her neighbor’s children, and that they heard about the event via the school district.

“It was really good having my children be exposed to all kinds of art and culture and the video of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” she said. “It’s really good to show the children that we have to stand together and unite.”

After the introductory program, she said, her group worked to make fleece blankets and handmade cards for children at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Other service projects at the high school, she said, included sorting donated items to give to local charities and writing letters to members of the military.

“They enjoyed it,” Klink said. “We made two blankets. They were very excited to make a second blanket and asked if they could make another one. We really enjoyed being there as part of the community.”

Aboye Efebo, a 16-year-old Berkley High School student from Oak Park, performed in a step team performance during the event at the high school, which she said was a “fun” but “nerve-wracking” experience.

She said she then traveled with other students to the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit to volunteer at a local church, doing activities such as folding clothes and cleaning up the kitchen.

“It was a really fun experience,” she said. “I felt like I was really helping the community.”

Efebo said the event allowed her to learn information about King that she hadn’t before, and put things into perspective on how much has changed since King’s time.

Learning about King also helped Efebo practice what he preached when it came to peaceful protests.

“The fact that he didn’t resort to violence, he just was all peaceful … it (inspired me) to back down and not be confrontational. So he’s, like, teaching me that I can just turn the cheek and be calm,” she said.

All in all, Efebo said the event was good and it was great to see other people interested in learning and helping.

“It meant a lot to me that people actually came out and helped,” she said. “There were some kids there that were like 8 or 9, and they came along simply just to help out, which is very inspiring. And I recommend everyone to come out and volunteer and just interact.”

Next year, Davids said, the event will be held in Royal Oak.

“I highly encourage people to come out next year,” Klink said. “It’s a great community event and a great reason to come together and do something for someone else — to serve.”