NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many people across the Tri-State area spent their Monday helping others to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“What better way to honor Dr. King’s legacy than through volunteerism and community involvement?” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “If he were here today, he would say there is much work to be done related to inequality — especially economic inequality. That is why I urge everyone to lend a hand and work together to create a safer and more equitable city, not just today, but year round.”

READ MORE: Dr. Fauci Says He 'Would Not Be Surprised' If Omicron COVID Variant Is Already In U.S.

At the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview, Long Island, about 150 parents and children packed food for needy families.

“It feels really good, and especially with my community at the Mid-Island Y, it’s amazing,” Jordan, a middle school student, told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

“We try to instill charity in the home, and a day like today is really special,” added Carly Bank.

At the Food Bank for New York’s community kitchen in Harlem, volunteers put together boxes of everyday items that cannot be purchased with food stamps, including detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, diapers and shampoo.

“A lot of the items that we’re giving away today, people really appreciate them because they’re expensive items that they may not otherwise have access to,” the group’s Terrell Owens said.

Volunteer Kenny Burke, of the Bronx, said now that he’s able to afford food, he is giving back in honor of King.

“Of all the great things that the Rev. Dr. King has done for us, this is just our way of taking time out and giving back to the community,” Burke said.

Kenisha Grant said the Food Bank for New York City was holding events at many of its sites.

READ MORE: New York State Trooper Injured After Being Struck By Vehicle On RFK Bridge

“Everybody is serving. Everybody who works for the organization is at one of the many sites across the community, and we’re doing a great job in giving back to the community that we work in and that we all live in, so it’s an awesome, awesome day, and we’re really excited about it,” Grant said.

Also in Manhattan, a sidewalk procession echoed the somber marches of so many years ago. Parents, students and graduates from the Manhattan Country School made a point in the freezing cold.

“I just wanted to challenge us to not treat this just as a day off from something, a holiday, but to come out and visibly show support for an idea,” said marcher Alicia Hall-Moran.

Dozens of volunteers with Habitat for Humanity spent their Sunday painting the Roy Wilkins Community Recreation Center in Saint Albans, Queens.

MORE: Best Ways To Commemorate MLK Jr. Day In NYC

It was part of the 17th annual “Building on a Dream” Weekend of Service. Organizers say the event recognizes King’s vision and continues his dream.


It’s especially difficult to remember how much of the country regarded King when he was still alive. To many people, he was not a hero; he was a dangerous agent of change, a provocateur.

“I don’t know if they thought he was a bad guy, but I thought he was a rebel, a disruptive person,” Rick Moody, a tourist from Alabama, told CBS2’s Lou Young.

MORE NEWS: Latest French Bulldog Stolen On Long Island Found Safe

“People said that there are other great holidays and maybe he wasn’t at the stature that should have made a holiday after him, but obviously I think they’re wrong,” said Randy Boughfrede, of Sparta, New Jersey.