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CLC, United Way are up to the Challenge on Day of Service to honor MLK

Lake Forest-  Brian Floriani (center) Founder Executive Director Bernie's Books talks group about importance reading.  From left Maggie

Lake Forest- Brian Floriani (center) Founder and Executive Director of Bernie's Books talks to the group about the importance of reading. From left Maggie Burba, Melanie LeBlanc, Kennisha O'connell, Jennifer Vasquez and Jennifer Ramos. The College of Lake County is hosting 250 volunteers for their annual MLK Collegiate Challenge Day of Service. Volunteers ages 10 to adult will be volunteering at various sites throughout Lake County. One group is at Bernie's Book Bank on Ballard Drive, Lake Forest. The group sorts and process books for distribution to young readers across the county. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 5, 2013 6:14AM

Volunteers trekked through one of the season’s few snow events Saturday morning to participate in the area’s second annual MLK Collegiate Challenge Day of Service.

The Day of Service, a joint venture between the College of Lake County and the United Way of Lake County, sends groups of local volunteers to work on service projects for non-profits and to commit “random acts of kindness” in public places. All of the activities stress the memory and spirit of the goals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I thought it would be a good day to give back to Martin Luther King Jr. and the community,” said Polo Briones, a CLC alumnus who helped pass out pencils and candy along with quotations from King and magnets and literature with recycling information at Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee.

Volunteers also sorted and packaged books at Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Forest, which provides free books to children from low-income families; passed out educational materials on recycling for the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County; played bingo with veterans at the VA hospital in North Chicago; packaged meat at the Northern Illinois Food Bank; held an open house at the Career and Placement Services facility at CLC; and worked at The Book Bridge and at other libraries, fire departments and park districts.

About 130 volunteers joined the event, including students and staff from CLC, United Way workers and people from the community at large.

“I think it went very well,” said event coordinator Carolyn Brodnicki-Serdar of CLC. “I think we hit the area of services that were important to Dr. King, including veterans, job issues, human rights and children.”

In a computer room at CLC in Grayslake, a group of volunteers wrote letters on human rights issues to Amnesty International and other destinations in honor of King.

Donville James, an elementary student from Immanuel Lutheran School in Waukegan and one of the youngest participating volunteers, wrote a letter championing rights for children in third world countries. He noted they are often put to work long before they reach their teenage years.

“They don’t get to have an ordinary life. They have to go to work at a young age without being able to have fun and be a kid,” James said. He added that King “really helped” earlier generations of his family, especially those “from Jamaica with darker skin.”

In the same room, others wrote on issues from both sides of the gun control debate, to freedom of religion, and domestic violence.

Noah Drane of Gurnee took the bus to CLC to write a letter to President Obama commending him on Inaugural comments about fighting voter suppression and “reminding” him to keep at it. Drane said the snow briefly discouraged him, but by the time he was at the bus stop, “I thought about what this day is all about. This is a very important day. I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. I know how important the right to vote is. “

Salud Osornio of Waukegan made a written plea for more educational facilities for Latinos, so that they can learn how to drive and speak English to reduce instances of submission and domestic violence based on their inabilities to gain independence through such knowledge.

Osornio said it is a goal in line with King’s way of thinking. “I’m very aware of segregation. I think we were a part of that. He was fighting for Latinos too,” she said.

Prior to the service work beginning at 9 a.m., volunteers met for a light breakfast at CLC, as well as a performance by the Word of Life Ministries Choir and a speech by retired CLC vice president Darl Drummond, who saw Martin Luther King Jr. speak in the nation’s capital.

“We’re excited to have such a good turnout,” said Rebecca Page with the United Way, who helped lead the efforts at Warren-Newport Library. “It’s great to be able to get out into the community, serve the community and help people remember who Martin Luther King was — his purpose and his vision.”

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