Central Oregonians give back on 'Day of Service'

Hundreds of volunteers help honor King's legacy

POSTED: 6:35 PM PST January 21, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

For many, it was a relaxing day off -- but for hundreds in Central Oregon, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was a busy "day on."

"When we get to go in and get our hands dirty and do great stuff for the community and see our result, it's so much fun," said Americorps Vista Program member Alyssa Bostian.

Groups, volunteers and organizations around the High Desert participated in a wide variety of service projects, including building a chicken run at a local school, making quilts for needy children and crafting flower arrangements for hospice patients.

These projects and a couple of dozen others were organized by Volunteer Connect.

And despite a chilly morning, event organizer Natasha Smith says giving back is a blast.

"It feels great -- that was what we were trying to promote people to kind of give back to the community and make it a day on and not off," Smith said.  "And it was great that people were inquiring about it, and just really wanted to give back."

While some tools used Monday were better suited for big hands, there was no shortage of little hands pitching in.

"There's a lot of kids here just helping to help homeless people and were working with the KIDS Center and stuff," said a young girl making quilts.

Charlene Schulz with 'After School Buddies' told NewsChannel 21 the organization's quilt projects for the KIDS Center and their dog food drive for homeless pet owners are also about teaching kids the importance of community.

"One of the little quilt squares said, 'You are loved.'  Another one says 'You are not forgotten' And so they get it -- it's not just a craft project, it's actually a gift of service," Schulz said.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" And on Monday, Central Oregonians answered that question, helping to fulfill Dr. King's living legacy.

If you want to learn more about giving back to your community as a volunteer, there are plenty of opportunities year-round: visit http://www.volunteerconnectnow.org/