HUNTERSVILLE – Hands On Charlotte plans to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by hosting volunteer fairs at three schools, including Blythe Elementary, simultaneously to benefit nonprofits throughout the region.

Organizers expect more than 800 volunteers for the MLK Call to Service held 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 18.

Projects planned for Blythe Elementary include decorating pet adoption bandanas, making candy grams, packaging comfort kits for the homeless, sorting coats for Crisis Assistance Ministry and sorting nails for Habitat for Humanity.

“I really hope that students start to understand that volunteering and serving the community comes in so many manners whether it’s big or small,” said Katie Crompton, who coordinates Blythe Elementary’s International Baccalaureate magnet program. “Any action is positive action to the community.”

Much of what students participate in comes from what they learn and what they are exposed to, Crompton said, noting that the hope is that such opportunities for service spark something children can take further.

“Right now, our hope is to plant the seed,” she said.

Partnering with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools allows Hands On Charlotte to provide its partner agencies with the volunteer support they need to serve the community. The partnership also strengthens the region’s culture of service.

“We’re very excited about getting the next generation of volunteers trained and making it a way of life for them,” said Eric Law, executive director for Hands On Charlotte.

Hands on Charlotte has worked with CMS to promote the idea of students getting more involved with community service, especially in the district’s 15 International Baccalaureate magnet schools, Law said.

“For students to figure out how to take action as a result of their learning is what the IB program is all about,” Crompton said. “How is it that we are educating students so they can in turn leave their mark in the community.”

Hands On Charlotte promotes service to meet the city’s most critical needs. Volunteers provided more than 35,000 hours of service last year.            

“Oftentimes, such projects tend to be focused on the actual city center of Charlotte,” Crompton said. “We were thrilled we were able to be a host site last year and bring Hands On Charlotte to the Huntersville community and get everyone involved in the great things they are doing for the county as a whole.”

Crompton estimated that 300 people attended Blythe’s MLK event last year.

“It was a volunteer organizer’s dream in that we ran out of projects,” Crompton said. “There was just such a large turnout, we ran out of things to do.”

Law would like to find more nonprofit partners and promote more projects in the Lake Norman area following the amount of interest generated at last year’s MLK event at Blythe Elementary.

Hands On Charlotte posts about 150 volunteer projects on its website every month.

“We’re looking to increase the number and certainly expand our geographic region to get a larger percentage of those projects in the Lake Norman area because it is such a boom town,” Law said.

 

Want to go? Hands On Charlotte’s MLK Call to Service takes place 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 18 at Blythe Elementary School, 12202 Hambright Road, Huntersville. The community is encouraged to RSVP at www.handsoncharlotte.org/mlk2014.