A day on, not a day off


Participants pause for a photo during the 2019 Unity Celebration at The Little Brick Church.

Participants pause for a photo during the 2019 Unity Celebration at The Little Brick Church.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” These words, spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have had a huge impact on promoting volunteerism and service to others across the nation.

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act and designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service. It is the only federal holiday that is observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”

The service initiative calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing problems and empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves the nation closer to King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

Began in 2016 as a Blount County grassroots event to keep King’s legacy of service to others alive locally, the fourth annual Day of Service/Unity Celebration will take place on Monday, Jan. 20, beginning at 8 a.m.

This year’s service project benefits The Arc of Blount County. The project will focus primarily on some landscape cleanup and an outdoor painting project. Volunteers are encouraged to bring rakes, leaf blowers, gloves, and hedge trimmers if possible. If you do not have any of these items, that’s okay. Show up anyway and someone will direct you on how to help.

Jim Ed Clayton, who has participated in the prior three events, said, “The Arc does so much to help families in our communities and they really deserve our appreciation. Persons of all ages and abilities are invited to help with the service project. It’s a great opportunity for children and teens to get service hours for school. All are invited to participate and demonstrate how Blount County is a community that loves and values people of all races, ethnicities, and religions.”

At noon, a Unity Celebration will be held at The Little Brick Church. Local attorney and musician Ed Berry will coordinate the event celebrating the blessings of unity and diversity. Retired Jefferson County Judge Huston Brown will be guest speaker and Oneonta native Mitch Kelley will provide music.

Immediately following the Unity Celebration, Lester Memorial United Methodist Church and its team of volunteers will provide lunch in the fellowship hall. The luncheon is free and open to the public.