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Thousands Participate In MLK Day Service Projects Across Delaware Valley

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thousands of people took part in the 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

In Philadelphia, the nation's largest Day of Service was underway at Girard College where an estimated 5,000 volunteers were on campus. More than 100 projects, workshops and presentations took place, highlighting current civil rights issues.

Guide: 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Events In The Philadelphia Area

(credit: Cherri Gregg/KYW)

Caitlin Garazzo is program manager at Career Wardrobe. She put the Governor, area congressmen, the police and fire chief and Mayor Jim Kenney to work today ironing, hanging and preparing suits and other items for non-profits that prepare folks for jobs. Dressed in a sweatshirt, Mayor Kenney, in his first Day of Service as Mayor, says it's the best way to honor Dr. King who gave his life for others.

"We are responsible for our brothers and sisters, all of us. The human family, the Philadelphia family we have to continue and instill that in each of us," said Kenney.

He says more work needs to be done. The theme for today was justice to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

In Center City, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were promised for the first time inside of Independence Hall. It was the prelude to Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream, in turn forming his life's work of making sure that promise applied to all.

Considering that, it makes sense that the warm company of the Liberty Bell was the place chosen by Dr. King's widow in 1986 to commemorate the holiday dedicated to her husband.

Eyewitness New's own Ukee Washington presided over the 31st annual event that included speakers such as Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey and Mayor Jim Kenney.

"If we can treat each other decently and with dignity every day we will be honoring Dr. King in the best way we possibly can," said Kenney.

Almost two million people across the country honored this legacy with the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, with a record setting 140,000 participating in Philadelphia alone, the same city where the event was started.

(credit: Cherri Gregg/KYW)

"Dr. King was a man of action not just one day but 365 days a year," said Todd Bernstein, founder of the event.

The hub for action took place on the campus of Girard College, and by separate groups and organizations throughout the city.

"Honoring Dr. King's legacy is a treasure and a joy and a commitment," said volunteer, Stephanie Childs, "Each and every one of us can do something for someone else."

For him, the selfless visionary, freedom rang out with the symbolic chiming of the Liberty Bell by the oldest living niece of Dr. King's wife, C. Delorus Tucker.

It's a sound that echos the struggle for freedom, at last and for all.

More than 140,000 volunteers participated in Day of Service activities throughout the region. Among them, Philadelphia's chapter of the NAACP and Black Clergy of Philadelphia. Eyewitness News was at the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia where distinguished leaders spoke about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., connecting his legacy to issues of our time.

In New Jersey, more than 100 people spent their Day of Service inspecting, sorting and packaging at the Food Bank of South Jersey in Pennsauken. Volunteers included high school students, faith-based organizations and area professionals.



The 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast took place at Rowan University in Glassboro.

Dr. Johnnetta Cole was the keynote speaker. A pioneer educator, Dr. Cole is the only person to have served as President of both Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and Bennett College in Greensboro, S.C. She spoke with Eyewitness News on Monday.



"This day is intensely meaningful for me. I don't take it well it's just a day when we don't go to work. I take it as a day when we have the responsibility to be as reflective as we can be about Dr. King's life, about his work, and to commit ourselves to doing whatever we can, no matter how small, no matter how large, to make his dream a reality," said Dr. Cole.

Dr. Cole currently serves as the Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art.

And the spirit was all about giving back  to honor the legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Local students at Stockton volunteered to make the world a better place for people and animals.


Guide: Top Ways To Commemorate MLK Jr. Day In Philadelphia


CBS 3's Alexandria Hoff, Cleve Bryan and KYW Newsradio's Cherri Gregg contributed to this report.

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