Get involved in MLK Day neighborhood service projects

Jan. 19, 2014 @ 11:46 AM

Looking for a service project? Consider stopping by Book Harvest’s MLK Day book drive at the Carolina Theatre today from 1 - 4 p.m. to donate new or gently used children’s books.

Book Harvest Executive Director and founder Ginger Young said this is their third MLK Day event, and the first held at the Carolina Theatre.

Every donated book ends up in the home of a low-income family, so children can start their own library. Children who receive free or reduced lunches at school can receive 10 books at the start of summer through Book Harvest to combat summer learning loss, Young said, and Medicaid-eligible babies receive 10 books every six months, so they have 100 books by the time they start kindergarten.

Young said Book Harvest also has a constantly running bookshelf program, in which about 6,000 books a month are distributed to community bookshelves for children.

“We feel that one of the ways our children can reach their full potential is to have a home stocked with books, to be surrounded by books, regardless of how much money their parents have in their pockets,” Young said.

“It’s a very powerful afternoon of service for everybody.”

Last year, Book Harvest collected 17,000 books in three hours. They also hope to beat this year’s goal of 10,000.

Another MLK Day of Service project to get involved with can be the ongoing E.K. Powe Elementary School food drive. Some E.K. Powe families have returned from winter break facing food shortages.

Volunteer Helen Compton said one student has no electricity in the home. Another is in urgent need of food. The volunteers collect and pack large bags of groceries for these families.

They have a network of nine porches in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale and Old West Durham neighborhoods that leaves baskets out for food donations.

“There is no more direct way that you can impact the health of a hungry child,” Compton said. “Whatever you can donate goes straight into the hands of a kid that needs it.”

They are looking for canned food and wrapped snack items, specifically for peanut butter, spaghetti noodles and dried beans. Donations can be dropped off on the porches of 2215 West Club Boulevard, 1038 Oakland Avenue, 2018 Sunset Avenue, 2039 Englewood Avenue, 2204 Wilson Street, 1424 Pennsylvania Avenue, 2407 Green Street, 2217 Tampa Avenue, and Cozy at 770 Ninth Street.