‘Helping others’ is theme for MLK Day of Service project

MILLSBORO — The spirit of giving back perpetuated by slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in full bloom Monday at American Legion Post 28.

A small army of volunteers congregated for the 10th consecutive annual MLK Day of Service, facilitated by Unit 28 Auxiliary.

“It’s a day on, not a day off,” said Beth McGinn of Unit 28 Auxiliary. “Martin Luther King always said, ‘What are you doing for others?’ And here we are today. This is what we are doing for others.”

The task at hand was to fill upward of 200 Buddy Baskets with basic cleaning supplies and hygiene items and make 150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches earmarked for the homeless.

Helping hands included auxiliary members from Unit 28, neighboring auxiliaries including Unit 5 from Rehoboth, Junior Auxiliary members, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Delaware State Office of Volunteerism and Volunteer Delaware 50+ and others.

“This is our fourth year coming down to help,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha member Vickie Pendleton, a teacher at Georgetown Middle School in the Indian River School District. “We are a service organization, and always give back to the community. We are an official interest group of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. We are in the preparation of chartering a chapter here in Sussex County.”

Completed Buddy Baskets destinations included the Crisis House in Georgetown, Home of the Brave and Home of the Brave II (the men’s and women’s temporary transitional housing units for veterans in Milford), Emanuele Shelter, Code Purple and other organizations.

“It’s either for the homeless or people moving into their homes,” said Ms. McGinn. “Stuff that we asked for, is stuff that even if they are living in their car, they can use – a towel, washcloth, soap, hand-cleaner and paper towels, and stuff like that.”

All of the items were donated.

“Everything here was donated, from businesses, organizations, other auxiliaries,” said Ms. McGinn. “It’s a whole communitywide donation – in Sussex County.”

Generosity from Unit 28 Auxiliary member Roberta Halle Bass of Dagsboro and her family supported a good share of this year’s Day of Service humanitarian effort. The family’s donation was $2,600.

“My family and friends … and myself,” said Ms. Halle Bass, whose brother Warren Halle has a building/development business, Halle Enterprises Inc. in Silver Spring, Md. “We’re big into helping the needy. It’s just part of us. We started with nothing. We know where we came from.”

Ms. Halle Bass is a past president of Volunteer Delaware 50+.

“This Legion is a partner,” said Ms. Halle Bass. “I am bigtime for the veterans. My husband was a former Marine. My brother was Navy. My other brother … and my cousin was Coast Guard and father-in-law was Army. I love helping the veterans.”

Melissa Enck of Milford brought her two daughters, Mallory, 13, and Lilly, 5, for their first Day of Service event at Legion Post 28.

“I work for the State of Office of volunteerism,” said Ms. Enck. “My coworkers and I help sponsor this event. I wanted to get the girls involved.”

Among their work stations was making PBJs.

“It means a lot that I get to help people,” said Mallory. “It makes me feel good to help people that don’t have like food, or paper towels and things.”

“Our mission statement for the American Legion Auxiliary is service, not self. And he (Martin Luther King Jr.) proposed, ‘What are you doing for others?’” said Ms. McGinn. “So, we try to tie that theme in with this event, because we are so fortunate that we can give to other people.”

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