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 a joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School last year.

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 a joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Berkley High School last year.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Royal Oak, Berkley to celebrate ‘a day on, not a day off’

Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day set for Jan. 21

By: Mike Koury, Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published January 8, 2019

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ROYAL OAK/BERKLEY — The cities of Royal Oak and Berkley will host their third annual joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service event at Royal Oak High School Jan. 21.

The event, a holiday for students and city employees, is billed as “a day on, not a day off.” It started as a way to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., and it encourages participants to volunteer all year long.

It’s put together by the MLK Service Day Committee, which comprises representatives from Berkley and Royal Oak schools, community members from both cities and multiple representatives from organizations in the community, Berkley Schools Director of Communications Jessica Stilger said.

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said the event has grown each year. Last year, she said, approximately 350 people participated in the event at Berkley High School, and organizers were happily overwhelmed with the amount of donated items.

The event will kick off at 7:45 a.m. with a light breakfast, followed by inspirational performances from students. Sarah Hunton, a Royal Oak Schools communications specialist, said attendees could expect musical performances.

Admission will be free with the donation of one or more items requested by local charitable organizations, including unused gallon Ziploc bags, bar soap, full-size shampoo and conditioner, lotion, liquid body wash, washcloths, toothpaste and toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, children’s and adult socks, deodorant, toilet paper and playing cards.

This year, WXYZ Editorial and Public Affairs Director Chuck Stokes will be the keynote speaker. 

At approximately 9 a.m., groups will break off to complete on-site and off-site service projects.

On-site opportunities include collecting and sorting items for charities and crafting blankets for Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Off-site opportunities include working with Yad Ezra, The New Foster Care, Neighbors Building Brightmoor and Cass Community Social Services.

“We will have buses available for both Brightmoor and Cass, and as long as folks go on our website and sign up using the SignUpGenius, they can be a part of that volunteer time as well,” Stilger said.

“This truly is an inspirational day. It’s amazing,” Davids said. “It’s like one of these miracle things where you just can’t imagine. More and more and more (donated items come) in, and then everything is sorted.”

Davids said that each year, the list of requested items is modified to meet local charities’ needs.

“(The event includes) a strong message of volunteering year-round because what we learned from nonprofits is starting around Thanksgiving through Martin Luther King Jr. Day, people are very generous with their time and donations, but through the summer, oftentimes it’s difficult (to find volunteers),” she said. “People get busy with other things.”

Right now, Stilger said, the schools are working on disseminating the event information to their respective communities and students.

“In Berkley schools, we’re running a penny wars. We’re going to be collecting funds from every single one of our schools, and with those proceeds, we will be purchasing items our nonprofit partners need to give back to the community,” she said.

Some of those funds will go to groups such as Teen Clean Closet and The New Foster Care, Stilger said, which both give out personal care items to youths.

“We just encourage people, even if they don’t stay necessarily for those volunteer activities, to come and be part of that fellowship in the morning and be inspired by Dr. King to continue to volunteer and to give all year long,” Stilger said.

Royal Oak High School is located at 1500 Lexington Blvd., at the southeast corner of Normandy and Crooks roads.

For more information, visit www.romi.gov, call (248) 672-5418 or email judyd@romi.gov. To sign up for on-site and off-site opportunities, visit www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0f4badad22a2fa7-mlkday1.

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