Uniontown volunteers step up for community on MLK Jr. Day

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 6:21 p.m.

Monday was a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and a group of volunteers from Uniontown did it in a very special way.

Gathering at the East End United Community Center, about 20 volunteers from the community and various area church youth groups set out to volunteer their time, working at the center and at the neighboring Shiloh Church of God in Christ Church.

“I think that it's wonderful that they are doing this,” Shiloh Church Pastor John Harris said of the volunteers. “We could really use the help.”

The day kicked off with a breakfast that was served to community members and volunteers, at which four center volunteers were recognized for their service.

“These four individuals have been great assets to us here,” East End United Community Center executive director Matthew Crutchman said of Alvin Moore, Kelly Asbury, Patricia Henderson and Madonna Minor. All have been instrumental in the running and continued success of the center over the years.

The idea to have the breakfast and day of volunteering was initiated by Crutchman, who wanted to start celebrating the holiday in a special way.

“No one in the area does anything to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Crutchman said. “One of Dr. King's sayings was, ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others,' so we want to turn his day into a day of serving.”

This is the first year the center is celebrating the holiday as a day of volunteering, and Crutchman said the special day is planned to be an annual event.

“We'd like to do this every year from now on, and hopefully it will continue to grow and grow every year,” Crutchman said.

The breakfast proved to be a big draw, with many individuals sponsoring entire tables for people to enjoy the home-cooked meal.

“We had about 85 people come to the breakfast, which I think is just incredible,” Crutchman said, “We even had to put up one table out in the hallway to accommodate everyone.”

Once breakfast was finished, volunteers set out through the center and at the Shiloh church to clean and organize the two facilities.

“Helping out is important to those people who need help,” said volunteer Simeon Saunders, 16, of Uniontown. “This is a good way for us to give back to the community.”

Crutchman said that more young people had planned to be a part of the volunteering, as the day was originally to be a day off from school, but several districts used the holiday as a make-up snow day. He was still thrilled, however, with those who were able to adjust their schedules to be a part of the event.

“We have around 20 here today who will be helping with cleaning, and I am happy with that,” Crutchman said. “I can't believe the people who came out today to be with us. It was truly a blessing.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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