Cardboard boxes lined tables and were stacked 10 feet high in the Teamsters union hall on Syracuse's north side this morning. Dozens of volunteers, from six-year-old Marielle Emmanuel to Syracuse University athletes filled them with donated clothes and food.
For the 14th year, the United Way of central New York put on a clothing and food drive in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Many spend the day remembering the civil rights leader with a day of service.
Emmanuel has been coming with her mom and sister to the event for three years. She says she’s read several books about King and likes his message.
"I like doing this because you get to help out kids and families in the community who don’t have food, or drinks, or anything that they can eat," she while taking a break from sorting canned goods with other children.
The clothes and other goods were redistributed to churches, shelters and community groups in the area.
Selina Lazarus, Emmanuel's mother, has been making Martin Luther King Jr. Day about service and giving back for several years. She now brings her daughters along.
She says she volunteers has a way to keep the civil rights leader’s message alive.
"Because Dr. King gave so much of himself and if we can continue on what he did for us, that’s what we do, to continue on," she said. "And that’s why I bring my children down so that they know that it’s not just a day off from school; for them to continue and help in the community that we live in."
Lynda Lannie has been volunteering for five years. She says the number of volunteers has grown each year.
"It's great to see a lot of young people come out," she said. "It's nice to see that they're understanding that you need to give back to the community."