Utica, N.Y.—In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one Utica resident has decided to give back to the community.
Celebrated every year on the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than a holiday, it is also a day of service. In 1994, congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the federal holiday as a national day of service, calling on people across the nation to honor Dr. King’s legacy through volunteering.
“It’s not just a day for you to just be home and say hey I’m off,” Jazzmyn Allen, Volunteer at The Utica Food Pantry explained. “It’s really supposed to be used to help serve, whether it’s volunteering or helping at a facility, something that you like to do it doesn’t really matter what its kind of just paying it forward in tribute to him and to all the civil rights movements from back in the day that kind of helped us get to where we are.”
Allen decided to volunteer her time at the Utica Food Pantry because of her positive experience with the organization in the past. Allen used to volunteer more when she was younger and credits the pandemic for inspiring her to do it again.
“I think the pandemic has really shed a lot of light on how many people are affected right here in our own community and I think now more than ever places are in need of more donations and in need of more people that can lend a helping hand,” Allen said.
The Utica Food Pantry saw a 40% increase in the number of families it served at its facility due to COVID and while the pantry is normally closed on holidays, they decided to open today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“A lot of people didn’t even realize we were open today but you know as we started discussing it thinking about it we felt that Martin Luther King would want us to be open he’d want us to be here providing food for the needy and hungry people,” Russell Brooks, president of The Utica Food Pantry said.
If you are interested in learning more or would like to donate to The Utica Food Pantry, go to their website uticanyfoodpantry.org/support-us or text “GIVE” to 1-833-343-0567.