25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the Day of Service. For volunteers, like Gwen Kieffer, the Day of Service is a way that they want to continue the legacy of Dr. King.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. did not want us to have a day off on this day, today should be a day where we give back to the community,” Kieffer said. “It's really important that we are here today, serving the people who need it most, instead of sitting at home on a day off.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday. But, while some see it as a day off from work, there are volunteers that see it as a day on to serve the community.
Kieffer is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Early Childhood Literacy Intervention Program Services, or ECLIPSE, at UW- Eau Claire. While her organization usually works with children, she said serving those at the Community Table in Eau Claire is a rewarding experience.
“For me as a volunteer, it feels great to be able to have people here and smile as we serve them, it's a really great feeling to help people out with something that's so important like food,” she said.
The Community Table is the only soup kitchen in the Chippewa Valley and serves between 50-to-100 people per day. According to the Onsite-Coordinator, Bailey Engelbrecht, the service is meant to bring people of all backgrounds together.
“It is nice to know that anybody is welcome, no matter what race or religion or whatever they come from, because we can join together with food and have that community and relationship,” she said.
For Kieffer, she said the Community Table is an important resource in Eau Claire.
“It's really important to see that this is a vital resource for our community,” she said. “The fact that we are able to give back and serve is really important and definitely what we find is important.”
As for Engelbrecht, she said the Community Table is open to everyone.
“It is a Community Table, so if you do get a meal, if you have food at home or whatever,” she said. “You can still come in and have a meal with the less fortunate.”