Sixth grade was the first time I devoted several hours of my Monday off to celebrate the true spirit of MLK Day and participated in Radnor Middle School’s service activities, but what started off as just another activity with my friends became a personal tradition. I came back each year for the rest of middle school, preparing placemats, arranging Jared Boxes, and coloring cards. I returned again my freshman year of high school, and though I was initially disappointed that many of my friends weren’t there to keep me company, the amount of upperclassmen from the National Honor Society was overwhelming, and I was eager to see my junior and senior friends again when I went to help out my sophomore year. However, after about an hour of writing positive messages and wrapping boxes and not seeing a single other person from the high school, I had a feeling that they weren’t coming at all that year. Sure enough, I discovered later that week that everyone from Radnor’s NHS had attended the elementary school’s MLK Day. I never even knew there was another one at Radnor. Why would there be two events, separating the younger kids from older ones and having those from the high school go back and forth from year to year?
It seems that Radnor asked the same question this year, deciding to start a single, district-wide MLK Day at the high school. All students were given the opportunity to do service projects, and adults, along with students from the high school, helped organize and facilitate the activities, which were preceded by an assembly. Kenneth E. Batchelor, Radnor school district’s incoming superintendent, and David Falcone, the Radnor Township School Board’s new president, were both introduced and made brief statements that were followed by a story about the importance of kindness from Dr. Stevenson and speeches from Radnor Police’s Andy Block, Children of Haiti Project’s Janell Iyer, and the Laurel House’s Nicole Rinier.
Afterwards, children continued to the various service activity stations and spent several hours writing thoughtful letters, preparing delicious casseroles, and creating and decorating birthday, craft, and activity boxes, dream flags, fabric hearts, blankets, wreaths, breakfast and lunch bags, bandanas, bags containing toiletries, and bowls from the Empty Bowls project. Food and clothing donations were also accepted. Altogether, these items benefited everyone from kids to the elderly to animals, and at the end of the day, those who participated and recorded the activities they took part in received a certificate.
I personally had an incredible time helping the younger kids fill and wrap birthday boxes for children in need at the Laurel House. It was a privilege to see their smiles as they completed each one that, along with the other items to be delivered, will surely bring additional smiles to hundreds of people’s faces in the near future. With the cafeteria crowded with children and adults and boxes and bags overflowing with donation items by noon, it was evident that Radnor’s first district-wide MLK Day of Service was definitely a success, and this new twist on an old Radnor tradition will hopefully continue for years to come.