PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — All across the country, Americans honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with acts of service.
In the midst of a devastating pandemic, volunteers are finding their work is more impactful than ever.READ MORE: New York City Council Votes In Favor Of Food Delivery Worker Protections
From Paterson, New Jersey to Washington Heights in New York City — families young and old safely set aside fears of COVID and spent MLK Day selflessly packaging food and supplies for underserved communities.
“I think being in service is always important, and it shouldn’t just be done on Martin Luther King. But it’s a good thing to do it on this day, because he was in service to people as a whole,” Manhattan resident Karen Foncette-Moore said.
Montclair State University student Valerie Chica shares the same birthday with the great civil rights leader and spends the holiday every year giving back.
During this time of great national turmoil, she was determined to find a place to volunteer in person, and found it at Father English Food Pantry.
“Hearing other people’s experiences and stories — that opens my eyes,” Chica said.
FOOD RESOURCES FOR TRI-STATE RESIDENTSREAD MORE: Prosecution Continues Closing Arguments In R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Trial
- Free food for New York City residents via NYC.gov/GetFood
- Food Banks Across New York State
- Food Banks In New York City
- Food Banks On Long Island
- Food Banks In New Jersey
- Food Banks In Connecticut
- Applying for SNAP Assistance in New York
- Applying for SNAP Assistance in New Jersey
- Applying for SNAP Assistance in Connecticut
“It’s absolutely so insane. I feel so bad for all these families,” said fellow student Stephanie Pena. “I didn’t know it was that hard.”
Faith leaders from UJA-Federation to Catholic Charities said seeing the country’s youth get involved brings them hope. Carlos Roldan said in the past, he often had no help.
“This past Saturday, we had a truck from the community food bank with 19 palettes of food, and I was here by myself,” he told CBS2’s Christina Fan. “It is a struggle. So when I see volunteers, when I see people, I get very excited.”
“Letting them know that every person counts and giving to others, it makes a difference,” said Sister Maureen Sullivan.
A day of service, hopefully leading to a lifelong commitment.
MORE FROM CBS NEW YORKMORE NEWS: As Search Continues For Brian Laundrie, North Carolina Coastal Community Remembers 'Bright Light' Gabby Petito
- Army Veteran Recounts Deadly Encounter With Emotionally Disturbed Man Inside New York City Subway Station
- Coronavirus Impact: Some Columbia University Students Say They’re Prepared To Withhold Payments If Tuition Isn’t Lowered
- Hunts Point Produce Market Workers On Strike Over Wage Dispute
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.