The spirit of community service was alive and well in Juneau on Monday as volunteers worked together to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Under a bright, January sun, volunteers from the Black Awareness Association of Juneau and Juneau’s AmeriCorps team collected food and household items to donate to the Glory Hall and the AWARE shelter.
The collection was a three-pronged operation with headquarters at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in the Mendenhall Valley and donation boxes and teams at Super Bear IGA in the Mendenhall Valley and the Foodland IGA downtown.
At the church, eager volunteers trotted out to cars to unload donated goods and sort them by destination.
Inside the church Monday morning, Sherry Patterson, president of the Black Awareness Association of Juneau, looked across a quickly filling table of donations and reflected on the holiday.
“Dr. King was such a humanitarian,” she said, adding that ongoing COVID-19 concerns prompted the group to host the drive for the second year in a row. She said that before the pandemic, a church service marked the occasion locally.
Calling last year’s drive an “overwhelming success,” Patterson said that items were arriving at a brisk pace Monday.
“Donated items were waiting on the steps when we arrived this morning,” Patterson said.
At the Super Bear collection site, Abe Lahr, an AmeriCorps member, reported “lots of donations” as he added a large stash of canned goods a shopper purchased for donation into the collection box.
Lahr said that people had donated socks, new blankets and sheets in addition to groceries.
“We’ve already filled a car with donations,” said fellow AmeriCorp member Cara Raney.
Christina Patterson, a member of the Black Awareness Association of Juneau and daughter of president Sherry Patterson, stopped into the store after loading her car with donations bound for the church.
She said she was glad to participate in the day’s activities.
“This serves everybody,” Christina Patterson said. “This is a creative way to celebrate because MLK had so much to do with service.”
By 3 p.m. Monday, donations filled the church’s ample room, and volunteers were moving food donations into a van destined for the Glory Hall.
“We are thankful,” said Mike Ricker, who drives the van for the Glory Hall. “It’s wonderful.”
Online Legal clinics
Across the state on Monday, about 40 attorneys volunteered their time at legal clinics conducted via Zoom.
According to Krista Scully, pro bono director for the Alaska Bar Association, attorneys from Juneau to Fairbanks were answering questions related to civil law from Alaskans throughout the state in a clinic that’s a partnership between the Alaska Bar Association, the Alaska Court System and the Alaska Legal Service Corporation.
She said that the online legal clinic could aid up to 82 people on Monday, and as of mid-day, the attorneys were through about half the anticipated caseload.
Scully said this was the first time organizers had used Zoom to conduct the clinic and that it was going well.
“Thirteen years ago, we answered the call of Dr. King’s legacy of making this a day on not a day off,” Scully said. “Lawyers have special skills, and we wanted to create a day where the community could come together to serve together.”