By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech opening was printed on the cards that went around the room on Monday as high school students from Western and Pacifica High School sat, waiting to be assigned to project rooms.
The Stanton Community Center at 11822 Santa Paula St. became a center of volunteerism on Monday as a part of honoring the memory of King, the civil rights leader shot and killed in 1968.
Around 75 students who had taken their day off to donate hours filled the main room of the center, waiting to be assigned to one of four activities.
In one room, tables were occupied by students who were creating toiletry supply bags for the homeless and writing letters for veterans overseas.
In another, blankets were being crafted for teen mothers and their children.
Elsewhere, teenagers would be grouped to clean up local parks.
Ann Nguyen, parks and recreation services supervisor, spoke to the students about the spirit of volunteerism and of some of the messages of King.
“Volunteering is something that helps us reach out to others and helps others around us,” said Nguyen.
Monday was a day off from school for the students, however, instead of enjoying the mid winter heat wave at the beach, they opted to fill graduation required volunteer hours.
“These kids are something a little special, you know, because most of the volunteer hours that they do for their graduation are filled during their time at school. These guys chose to come here on their day off to help others,” said David Shawver, city council member.
Blanket makers were encouraged to think about the activity at hand while they were working, something which is called conscious thinking in Buddhist practice. The idea is that if the maker of an item fully concentrates on the work and the purpose of the item, the work will be unselfish and whole.
For the letters to veterans, Nguyen said that in writing, to think about what it must feel like to be cut off from one’s family and friends for up to seven months at a time.
“This is something special that is happening here,” said Shawver, “ These are people who need help the most and expect it the least.”