Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

—from Strength to Love, 1963

Martin Luther King Day is a monumental day in America; a time where we look back at how far our country has come with social injustice and how far we still need to go. This year, on MLK Day, our office participated and sponsored Overbrook Educational Center’s “Day of Service” with students, teachers, organizations and community members in West Philadelphia.

As sponsors, we donated and volunteered with OEC for a project during the “Day of Service” to give back to an educational center that prides itself on being “different from the pack.”

“Slightly under 1/3 of our student population is blind or visually impaired, which is the largest population in the entire Philadelphia School District,” wrote Merideth Foote, Principal of OEC. “With such a unique population of students who do not have the ability to see fully and in some cases at all, students at OEC learn truly how to respect and appreciate everyone.”

As Martin Luther King Jr. stood for peace amongst all people and prided himself on standing out in a crowd, we felt it was only fitting to give back to an organization on MLK Day that does just that in his honor.

During the “Day of Service,” students participated on their day off with organizations and community volunteers, completing projects for the school including: Mural Creations, Beautification Project, Reading & Writing Environment, Family Workshops and our volunteer project, Toiletry and Snack Bag Creation for the Homeless.

Hands From The Heart, students’ families, organizations and volunteers collected toiletry items to be donated to the St. Barnabas Homeless Mission for Women and Children in West Philadelphia. The items included feminine products, travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste deodorant and more.

With all of the donations from several entities including our own, we were able to donate on behalf of the Overbrook Educational Center enough bags for every single family currently staying at the shelter to receive one. Each bag included toiletry items and a hand-written letter from students and organizers of the school.

The event ended with a powerful reenactment by a student’s father of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream,” speech. As the auditorium stood silent with the words MLK Jr. once spoke, we all reminisced on the words he spoke so many years ago and realized the importance it still means today.

Hands From The Heart prides itself on giving back to our community in any way that we can to better the communities we live and serve in. We thank the OEC for allowing up to participate and sponsor and we look forward to the next Volunteer Committee event coming soon.

#HFTH