Thousands use holiday to serve King

Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and teachings are bringing people from all walks of life together to help those in need.

On Monday’s national holiday commemorating what would have been the slain civil rights leader’s 81st birthday, which was Friday, many in Orange County were spending the day doing service work to honor King’s spirit.

Through the leadership of Volunteer Center Orange County, at least 1,000 volunteers throughout the county took part in activities to help survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.

Among the volunteers were employees of Pacific Investment Management Company, the Newport Beach global investment management firm. They sorted out medical supplies at the Giving Children Hope, a nonprofit organization in Buena Park.

“PIMCO usually sends groups of volunteers from two to four times a month,” said Sarah Middleton, PIMCO’s community outreach manager. “Being that Martin Luther King Day is a national day of service, we thought that we should be part of that as well and continue Dr. King’s legacy of service and in service.”

Middleton said she had felt so helpless not knowing what to do for those in Haiti.

“... But volunteering this morning allowed me to contribute my time and efforts toward helping those who are suffering so much in Haiti,” she said.

PIMCO’s eight employees were originally scheduled to pack backpacks with food for Orange County children in need, but they were redirected to help sort out medical supplies for Haiti.

The donated medical supplies were placed in disaster relief kits that will be delivered to Haiti.

There were seven other projects scheduled in Orange County, including assembling food boxes for the homeless and the hungry in Garden Grove and passing out meals to the homeless in a shelter in Fullerton and Santa Ana.

A quotation by King sums it all up, said Barbara Powers, Volunteer Center’s chief development officer:

“Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve,” King said. “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.”

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