“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. 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. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Project hosted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, these wise words from Dr. King were put into action. Although it’s a day off for the firm, Skadden attorneys and staff and their families and friends braved bone-chilling temps and snowy conditions to make it a “day on”.
This blog post is provided by Gillian N. Mace, HR Coordinator at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Every January, their firm dedicates the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to volunteering as a group. This year, nearly 70 volunteers made 100 hygiene kits and 300 (decorated) boxed meals for The Salvation Army clients at the Freedom Center Campus in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
The project was two-fold: creating 100 hygiene kits and 300 boxed lunches to be distributed to both facilities. After a brief welcome, Linda Reiter and Bill Vogt, volunteer resources manager and coordinator respectively, from The Salvation Army spoke to us about the Freedom Center Campus facilities as well as the services they provide. Offering insight into who would be the recipients of our efforts and the crisis situations that bring them to The Salvation Army in the first place was an excellent motivator. Their words also reinforced the idea that everyone’s contributions matter. Once this introductory part of the event was done, everyone headed to their assigned service “stations” and began working.
Hygiene kits were assembled with about a dozen different toiletries and other basic necessities, including body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, and wash cloths. The kit contents were placed into individual canvas tote bags for the recipients to keep and re-use.
The box lunches featured one of four types of sandwiches (ham, roast beef, salami, and turkey), a bag of chips, an apple, a bottled water, cutlery and condiments, and a lemon bar for dessert. But here’s the best part: prior to being filled with these items, the boxes themselves were individually decorated by a team of creative volunteers (some as young as 2 years old!) with drawings, stickers, and words of encouragement.
A highlight of this event is that everyone from toddlers to senior citizens is an active participant and gets to experience the joy, fun, and sense of collective accomplishment that a group volunteer project brings. After weeks of planning and preparation for the event, it was very gratifying to move between the stations and see everyone working side-by-side, fully engaged, and pitching in wherever needed. Although they weren’t instructed to do so, I watched volunteers who finished their part of the project more quickly automatically head to other stations to assist until everything was completed.
It was particularly moving and wonderful to see our youngest volunteers be some of the hardest working and most enthusiastic among us. Thanks to the efficiency and dedication of every one of the nearly 70 people volunteering, the project was accomplished in only a few hours.
If you’d like to host a Donation Drive or service event, please reach out to our volunteer department.