The Black Awareness Association of Juneau honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a manner reflecting the man the holiday is named after, by helping their neighbors with a food and essentials drive.
And Juneau responded.
“We just wanted to do what we can, as much as we could today. And it’s actually exceeded our expectations,” said Sherry Patterson, president of Black Awareness Association of Juneau, in a phone interview. “Dr. King said one of the pressing issues in our time — he said in the ‘60s but it’s still relevant — to look for your fellow man, your neighbors, and others. On that premise that’s why we decided to do it today.”
The organization held the drive with eight volunteers at two locations, split between the Super Bear IGA and Foodland IGA. Volunteers from the organization as well as Marc Wheeler and employees from Coppa came out to man the stands.
“We’re always closed MLK Day,” Wheeler said in an interview. “We wanted to find a way to serve.”
Despite foul weather at Foodland, volunteers cheerfully handed out slips of paper listing the needs put forth by the BAA’s partner organizations, Helping Hands Food Bank and Love Inc. Patterson said those organizations had said that diapers, toiletries, canned nonperishables, peanut butter, jelly and other specifics were high on their needs list.
“People have been super generous,” said Maddie Kombrink, one of the volunteers at Foodland. “This is the first time we’ve done it. It’s good to spend today giving back, doing something useful.”
Usually, members of the BAA would bring donations to the group’s MLK Day celebration, Patterson said. But with the regular event inadvisable in light of the pandemic, they opted to hold the public drive instead.
“It’s been nice. This is huge,” Patterson said. “We’ve been blessed that the community has responded as it has.”
The BAA is gearing up for Black History Month next month in February, where they’re planning a number of virtual presentations on a variety of topics on the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Black-Awareness-Association-Juneau-AK-171820359510520, Patterson said.