MLK Day of Service For Bay Area

This national holiday has become one to volunteer your time.

Bay Area residents are cleaning up neighborhoods, planting trees, painting murals and beginning a fast for peace today, all in the name of  Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Each year, volunteers across the country recognize Martin Luther  King, Jr. Day by working to better their communities, whether that means removing graffiti, renovating school playgrounds, giving blood or feeding the  hungry.
    Congress designated the holiday a day of service in 1994. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, embraced the idea before her death in 2006.
    Some of the Bay Area's communities most challenged by violence are  having the greatest number of events, particularly in Oakland, which will  host volunteer projects throughout the city.
    A "Green Clean Up Day" organized by the Allen Temple Leadership  Institute with Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Larry Reid will  target 20 blocks in East Oakland for cleaning.
    More than 200 volunteers are expected to participate in the  cleanup, which will take place between 8:30 a.m. and noon, primarily along  International Boulevard between 81st and 98th avenues. They will remove  graffiti and pick up trash.
    Another gathering in Oakland will fan out from Sobrante Park  Elementary School at 470 El Paseo Drive. After a brief ceremony, volunteers  will set out on a variety of projects including building school gardens,  painting murals, cleaning up neighborhoods and working on projects at senior  facilities.
    Elsewhere in Oakland, a group of 74 students from the Life Academy  of Health and Bioscience will begin a fast to bring attention to violence in  the city.
    They are calling the action a "relay fast" in which participants  will take turns going without food until Cesar Chavez Day at the end of  March. They will begin their fast today after a short ceremony outside of  school, located on 35th Avenue.
    The students decided to fast in response to three recent Oakland  murders that affected the school community.
    Along the Bay, the East Bay Regional Park District is inviting  volunteers to help clean up the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline.
    Volunteers there will assist parks staff in habitat restoration  and invasive plant removal.
    Several events are also planned in nearby Richmond, which has also  grappled with problems related to poverty and crime.
    Members of the Lions Club will be in Richmond all day assisting in  home repair projects on six homes on Sixth Street.
    Organizers said the homes were chosen because the residents are  financially challenged and the homes are in need of basic repairs, including  gardening, painting, electrical repairs and energy conservation.
    Volunteers will also be working on 10 areas along the Richmond  Greenway as part of the city's Fifth Annual Day of Service.
    Those volunteers will work primarily on planting trees and  cultivating gardens, including planting over 50 fruit trees in a "New  Richmond Edible Forest."
    Local artists will give performances throughout the day.
    In San Francisco, volunteers planned to meet at the African  American Art and Culture Complex at 9 a.m. to set out to clean up Bernal  Heights. The Department of Public Works is providing transportation, and  volunteers will be weeding, landscaping, and cleaning up the area.
    Volunteers will also gather at John O'Connell High School on San  Francisco's Folsom Street to build two picnic tables, construct and install  four bulletin boards, improve the landscaping of a school garden and paint  school railings and lunch tables.
    The volunteers planned to meet at 10 a.m., and break for a short  concert at about noon.
    In the city's Tenderloin neighborhood, dozens of volunteers are  gathering to paint a mural along 11 blocks of sidewalk, in what participants  say will be a visual pathway that will connect schools, youth service  providers and community centers.
    In the Bayview neighborhood, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity  and Rebuilding Together will be gathering to make renovations to the Bayview  Opera House, which they say was recently designated a national historic  building.
    In the South Bay, United Way Silicon Valley is partnering with  Resource Area for Teaching to assist local educators for the day, and will  meet in Sunnyvale to assemble learning kits that teachers can use in the  classroom.
    State Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, has joined with NBC Bay  Area to invite volunteers to help clean up and restore the Ulistac Natural  Area in Santa Clara.
    The American Red Cross Silicon Valley will be sending volunteers  to locations throughout the South Bay, including San Jose, Campbell and  Cupertino, to educate community members about disaster preparedness and fire  safety.
    Further east, the Diablo Restoration Team is seeking help in  restoring habitat along Marsh Creek in Clayton. They'll be watering new  shrubs that were planted in December, removing non-native plants and seeding  new native grasses and shrubs.
    In Pinole, volunteers will gather to clean up the Pt. Pinole  Regional Shoreline throughout the day.
    In Marin City, some of those gathering for a celebration at the  Manzanita Recreation Center will participate in two Conservation Corps  projects, a garden restoration at the Mattie and Clarence Boatman Community  Garden, and litter removal at the Marin City Marsh.
    In addition to the community service, the Bay Area will be  celebrating King's life in a number of other ways, including with marches,  special meals, concerts and meetings throughout the region.

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