NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of people across the Tri-State area were spending Monday helping others in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger hosted its annual MLK Serve-A-Thon to help fight hunger.
Christy Walker, of the Bronx, helped prepare food for the hungry in Morningside Heights.
“All of my people that are coming here, I take care of them like they’re my children,” the Bronx native told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.
Walker said she saw King speak and was inspired to live out his message of service and social justice.
“Every time he talked, you felt like he was talking to you,” he said.
She’s also been on the other side of the serving table.
“I was homeless, I was a drug addict, I was all of those things,” Walker said. “And coming here helping other people is what got me sober.”
Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said there are 15 sites throughout the city where 250 volunteers were informing people about government programs, including SNAP and WIC benefits.
“We really want to honor Dr. King’s legacy,” he said. “We won’t stand around just singing a few songs, showing a few movies. We’ll get in the trenches and fight back to fight for the social justice he dreamed of.”
Others were working at food pantries or soup kitchens.
The National Action Network was scheduled to host several events in the city, including laying a wreath at the site where two NYPD detectives were killed and holding a vigil at the site where Eric Garner died.
In New Jersey, volunteers for the organization Jersey Cares were set to paint schools in Bogota and Newark.
Over the weekend, volunteers in Bedford-Stuyvesant honored the civil rights leader by painting, cleaning and renovating the Magnolia Tree Earth Educational Center during the 5th Annual MLK Weekend Memorial Civic Service Project.
“It’s giving individuals the opportunity and the chance to affirm Dr. King’s dream where we all can come together in harmony and community,” said volunteer Keith Forrest. “It’s an honor to come together and work with individuals within a community to foster care and concern.”
The event was held by the group 500 Men Making a Difference, which organizes young men for volunteer projects throughout Brooklyn.
“A lot of the work that we’re doing is we’re leaving places much better than what they were before and it’s evident,” Forrest said.
In Crown Heights, the American Jewish Committee and New York Urban League joined forces to bring volunteers and students together for an all-day program at Middle School 334 on Park Place.
“On this MLK Day we recognize that we have to lift as we climb,” volunteer Eric Henry said.
In Connecticut, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes joined hundreds of volunteers as part of the University of Bridgeport’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, public schools and government offices are closed. Mail delivery and alternate side parking are suspended for the day.
Subway and buses in New York City will operate on their regular weekday schedule.