A different kind of learning took place on MLK Day at Rockford Rescue Mission

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Volunteers from the African-American Resource Center at Booker help sort donations in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at the Rockford Rescue Mission in Rockford.
Volunteers from the African-American Resource Center at Booker help sort donations in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at the Rockford Rescue Mission in Rockford.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

— Martin Luther King Jr.

ROCKFORD — There was no school Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but that doesn't mean there was no learning.

The African-American Resource Center at Booker and Rockford Rescue Mission, two long-time community staples, teamed up to teach children about the importance of volunteering.

Twelve children, ages 6 to 17, honored the civil rights icon's call to service by volunteering for one hour at the Rescue Mission.

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Before doing so, Charmel Jacobs, the Rescue Mission's supervisor of volunteers, laid down the ground rules.

"I want to see big smiles," she said. "Even if I can't see your lips (through the face masks), I can see it in your eyes."

The children sorted a large bin filled with blankets, hats, gloves, scarfs, socks, hand warmers and personal hygiene products into smaller bins to make it easier for Rescue Mission staff to hand out the items to anyone in need.

"We love when people can help us help other people," Jacobs said.

Charmel Jacobs, volunteer supervisor at the Rockford Rescue Mission, talks to volunteers from the African-American Resource Center at Booker, on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at the mission.
Charmel Jacobs, volunteer supervisor at the Rockford Rescue Mission, talks to volunteers from the African-American Resource Center at Booker, on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at the mission.

Jacobs said the items will be given to shelter residents as well as to anyone in the community who is in need.

"We've seen people come here wearing only sandals and socks," she said.

Terrica Huntly's two children, Eddie Jr, 7, and Edden, 5, are students at Kikifer's Entrepreneurial Academy. After school, they are dropped off daily at the community center.

On Monday, Huntly served as one of six chaperones. She said it was important to her that her son and daughter to attend the field trip.

"Coming off of Christmas when we are blessed with so much, we want to make sure that we are blessing to others," she said.

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Brennon Owens, 15, an Auburn High School student, joined the field trip for a couple of reasons.

"I just wanted to give help and observe and see what the Rescue Mission is all about," he said.

The Rescue Mission, open 24/7 and serving three meals a day, is a faith-based organization recognized as the region’s primary provider of assistance to the homeless,

near-homeless, addicted and the working poor in the Rock River Valley.

Chris Green: cgreen@rrstar.com; @chrisfgreen

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Area youth volunteer at Rockford Rescue Mission in honor of MLK Day

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