BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Township residents and their friends came together Saturday, Jan. 18, for the sixth annual Bloomfield Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, an opportunity for neighbors to make a difference for others.
In previous annual days of service, volunteers repainted district school hallways, created a teen area in the public library and collected hygiene items for distribution to those in need. The day of service occurs the weekend before the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
This year’s day of service occurred in the cafeteria at Bloomfield Middle School and was accomplished by two assembly lines of volunteers. In one line, knapsacks were stuffed with nonperishable food items; in the second line, vinyl drawstring bags bearing the likeness of King were filled with toiletries.
According to Bloomfield Councilwoman-at-large Wartyna Davis, who initiated the day of service and created the MLK Day of Service Committee to oversee it, up to 500 knapsacks and 1,200 drawstring bags were stuffed.
“We partnered with Toni’s Kitchen to meet the needs of some community members,” she said on Saturday at BMS, referring to the Montclair food kitchen. Toni’s Kitchen donated the food products, Davis said, and the toiletries were donated by Clara Maass Medical Center, Crest, Oral-B Professional Products and individuals.
Davis said volunteers who signed up at the public library and Carteret Elementary School parents will distribute the food parcels throughout the community. The toiletry parcels will be distributed to Bloomfield middle and high school students, and through Park United Methodist Church to those in need.
According to Davis, about 200 more hygiene bags were created this year than last.
“There are so many metrics for success,” she said. “We set a goal and we exceeded it. But also, it’s the variety of people who participated and what motivates them. This speaks to the legacy of Dr. King, which, in this particular case, is people coming together as a community to serve others.”
The day of service is not the only annual effort by the MLK Day of Service Committee, she said. There have been three food drives since Thanksgiving, and last spring thousands of pairs of socks were distributed to local nonprofits.