Some community organizations, churches and schools hosting service projects throughout the nation this weekend in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day say they are experiencing an increase in participation.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) in Arlington, Virginia, will host a massive cleanup of the Anacostia River on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
The nonprofit group will gather hundreds of volunteers of all ages to remove trash and debris from the shoreline of the river, said Michael Cronin, SCA’s marketing and events coordinator.
“The major idea here is to improve the health of the Anacostia River and watershed,” he said.
Cronin said low-income communities like Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood are often subject to poor environmental conditions.
“You can’t turn your backs on low-income communities when you’re talking environmental issues,” he said.
Cronin explained that making sure the river is clean for future generations to enjoy is a matter of environmental justice that supports King’s ideals.
“We aren’t living in a post-racial society – there are still (social) issues and environmental issues that need to be ironed out,” he said. “Connecting his goals and executing his legacy is definitely something we are in favor of.”
This will be SCA’s third annual river clean up and Cronin said more people come out every year. He said more than 600 people assisted in the service project last year in 8 degree weather.
“Volunteering in general is a great way to improve character and bring substance to your life,” he said, adding that people choose to serve because it “fills you with a sense of purpose.”