Making a difference

Residents work together to paint the inside of the small gymnasium at Antelope Valley High School as part of the MLK Day of Service Projects.

LANCASTER – Hundreds of residents got up early and braved biting cold weather Saturday to paint, clean, build and beautify their community as part of Lancaster’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“We’re giving back to the community in support of Martin Luther King and what he did for this country,” said 19-year-old Gabriel Brown.

Students spruce up the courtyard at Antelope Valley High School.

“It’s easier to get work done if you have a lot of people,” said Christopher Ceasar, 21.

With 30 project sites throughout the Antelope Valley, there was no shortage of work to be done. City officials estimated at least 1,200 volunteers from more than 85 community service organizations, businesses, and volunteer groups participated in the day of service.

The bulk of the volunteers were at Antelope Valley High School, where many came out as early as 7:30 a.m. to do their part to prepare the campus for its Centennial celebration.

A DJ in the courtyard kept the atmosphere festive as volunteers gave the campus a deep cleaning. Work was completed in the choir room, small gym, restrooms, and weight room. There was also brick wall painting, classroom and outdoor cleanup.

“This is the oldest school in the Antelope Valley and it deserves to have all of us in here helping,” said Emmett Murrell, of Murrell’s Farm and Boys Home.

Scouts from Cub Scout Pack 214 clean a walk of honor plaque on The BLVD.

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away, several volunteers were hard at work sprucing up The BLVD. Workers cleaned light standards, walk of honor plaques, benches, planter boxes and windows.

Rag and spray in hand, Pastor Lowell White of the Highlands Christian Fellowship Church meticulously cleaned benches near the Bex Bandstand Stage.

“In the Bible, Jesus Christ says ‘Father, make them one as you and I are one,’ so that means community and unity,” said White. “You can only have unity when you are working together, so if we’re going to be followers of Christ then we have to come together and help wherever help is required, so that’s what we’re doing,” White added.

The MLK Day of Service culminated with an assembly in the large gymnasium at Antelope Valley High School.

Mayor Emeritus Bishop Henry Hearns, founder of the Antelope Valley’s MLK Celebrations, moved an audience of more than 100 by sharing his personal experience of what it was like growing up in the segregated South.  Read more on that story here.

View many pictures from the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on our facebook page.