Day of Service options abound in Highland Park
Elle Seiden (right), 10, and Sarah Sarowitz, 10, both of Highland Park, give out samples of soup at the King Day of Service. Volunteers created bags of ingredients for the Moraine Township Food Pantry. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 22, 2013 9:41PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Hundreds of adults and children heeded Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to service Monday by spending a few hours at the Highland Park Recreation Center doing something for someone else.
There were projects to brighten the days of hospitalized children, soldiers overseas, families living in homeless shelters and those trying to stretch their food dollar — to name just a few. More than two dozen organizations sponsored workstations to benefit various causes.
“We thought it would be a great way for the kids to help out, and do something on their day off other than just play,” said Jennifer Meyers, a Highland Park mother who participated in the Day of Service with her son, Jack, and his friend, Spencer Nguyen. They assembled packages of toiletries for homeless shelters and wrote letters of appreciation to children of military families, among other activities.
On Tuesday, organizer Cheryl Levi reported that 1,000 people attended the Day of Service. All told, 120 volunteers from organizations such as Americorps, Habitat for Humanity, Northwestern University and the local community assisted in the effort.
The Red Oak School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) sponsored one workstation where helpers were invited to scoop dry soup ingredients into plastic bags for distribution through the Moraine Township Food Bank. Each bag included measured proportions of barley, split peas, brown rice and lentils along with a recipe for preparing the soup with bouillon cubes, onion, carrots, celery and seasonings.
The Wayne Thomas School PTO invited youngsters to color tablecloths for USO organizations, while the Braeside School PTO made it possible to create a Valentine for a soldier through Operation Support Our Troops.
At one table, children used bright-colored markers to decorate paper flower petals for miniature flower pots destined for patients at Highland Park Hospital. The activity was sponsored by the Highland Park Rotary.
At another table, youngsters colored fabric squares that would later be stitched into quilts with heavy backing and distributed to hospitalized children by Project Linus. Sponsored by the Lincoln School Service Club, the quilt-coloring project had drawn nearly 200 participants by shortly after noon.
Many participants paused to write a letter of encouragement to a child with one or more parents in the military. “We want to thank them for their courage, their coping abilities and the security we all enjoy because of their sacrifice,” said Bobbi Michaels, a volunteer working the table of the Hero Pack project.
The Highland Park Day of Service drew some participants from outside the area. Susan Oddsen and her daughter Maya Colby of LaCrescent, Minn., learned about Highland Park’s Day of Service from a national website and decided to spend the holiday making a contribution. They were in Chicago because Oddsen’s son was attending a Quaker retreat in Evanston.
“We like to do a lot of volunteering whenever we can,” said Oddsen. “I think you need to take your kids to these events early.” The Day of Service is sponsored by North Shore District 112 and the Highland Park Human Relations Commission.