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World Vision Encourages 'Virtual Volunteerism' for MLK Jr. Day

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By Brittany Smith, Christian Post Reporter
January 16, 2012|8:37 am

Monday marks the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, a time when many Americans will participate in the official MLK Day of Service.

World Vision is also taking part, and has created a new opportunity for those to pitch in. The Christian humanitarian aid organization is encouraging those who can’t volunteer somewhere in person to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering virtually.

They have created a way for people to purchase food kits or pre-packaged meals online. Each kit contains three to four meal packets (breakfast, lunch, dinner) or enough food to feed a family of five for one day by providing sustenance such as oatmeal, lentil soup, and pasta.

"World Vision is extremely concerned about the growing number of children who aren’t getting enough food to eat on a daily basis,” said Romanita Hairston, vice president of U.S. Programs for World Vision. in a released statement.

“When children don’t eat, hunger creates a negative domino affect impacting not only a child’s health but their ability to concentrate in school and their overall well-being.”

According to World Vision, U.S. poverty statistics have found that 15.75 million American children, or one in five, still live in poverty and more than 20 million American children receive free or reduced school lunches.

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Mindy Mizell, spokesperson for World Vision, told The Christian Post that the food kits are a brand new program and that it came about as a response to more people looking for meaningful gifts to give during the holidays – whether it’s during Christmas or MLK Jr. Day.

She said it coincides perfectly with MLK day because this holiday has always been known as a day of service. “We thought, let’s try to engage more people in the idea of service and the Internet is a great tool to start with."

And while she stressed that this isn’t a replacement for volunteering in person, it is a good option for people that don’t get the day off for MLK day. Plus, the country has seen an increase in people living in impoverished situations, so providing food kits helps meet many people’s basic needs.

“World Vision applauds all Americans who are using this day to honor Dr. King by volunteering and fighting poverty, an issue he was extremely passionate about,” said Hairston in a statement “However, we’re excited that even more people can give back this year by giving online.”

As the orders are collected the kits will be distributed to food banks around the country that are struggling to meet the immediate needs of the people around them. This is mainly in areas that have been hit by disasters and key cities that have high poverty issues like L.A., D.C. and Chicago. Mizell said that being able to order food kits gives people a chance to get involved year round in helping to meet the needs of others on a domestic scale.

According to mlkday.org, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was designated by Congress as a national day of service in 1994. It takes place each year on the third Monday in January, and is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off."

On the Web: www.worldvision.org/feedthechildren

 

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