Orange MLK Day of Service t-shirts on volunteers, blue M&Ms mixed into chocolate chip cookie batter, and construction paper covered with glitter and stickers colored an otherwise cold, gray day.
The scene was the cafeteria in the tall brick building in the old Marymount school complex that now serves as a day habilitation program for over 100 developmentally disabled adults.
On Saturday about 20 of these adults got paired up with an equal number of volunteers to collaborate on several projects in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. The event was coordinated by the Volunteer Center of the United Way and the IAHD, one of inviting citizens to make a tradition of altruism on this holiday.
Those that helped make the morning go smoothly were Candace Munroe, with the cool title of Innovation Developer of IAHD, and Maxine Elkins, from the Volunteer Center, who was taking $5 donations for the jubilant orange shirts designed by a Westchester youth group.
In the kitchenette, there was the mixing of cookie-batter, the results of which everyone in the room would soon enjoy. At round tables in the cafeteria, against the backdrop of the March On documentary of Martin Luther King, Jr. playing on a television set, small groups were crafting pieces that together would form an "I have a dream" cloud.
Participants proved themselves very artistic as they wrote messages (Free at last, I have a dream), and drew likenesses of the beloved preacher, flags and other patriotic symbols. There was a corner library area where volunteers read one of several books about MLK, Jr. to eager listeners.
The Ibrahim family, of Yonkers, came out in full for this event, with Dad and his three children all here making art and treats. "We've been doing this for a while and now that they are getting older, I'm trying to get them more involved," Mr. Ibrahim said.
Chereese Hill, of Cortlandt Manor, recently honored by the United Way as one of their "Rising Stars" for her volunteerism, was here instilling the habit of philanthropy into her two daughters, Cayci, 12, and Chyna, 17. Chyna was helping with the cookies while Cayci and her mother drew with one of the disabled adults. "We do a lot of cancer walks and stuff," said Cayci.
"We like to volunteer," Chereese Hill said. "It's a way of a giving back. We're thankful the world is going the way it's going."
Chocolate bars donated by New York Life by the basketful help too.
For a regularly updated list of other volunteering opportunities in our region throughout the year, click here.