ELMIRA - The Food Bank of the Southern Tier hosted hundreds of volunteers Monday in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service


“At Ithaca College, they try to make MLK Day a day on, not a day off,” said Bianca Summerville, an Elmira native and Ithaca College student. “We didn’t have classes today, but the college really wanted (students) to go out and do some sort of community service.”


Summerville, who interned at the Food Bank last summer, said she decided to come back to the place she worked to volunteer and give back to the Food Bank.


“I kind of consider (the Food Bank) my second home,” Summerville said. “When I interned here that’s when I started to realize that food and security was a problem, and it was a big problem. But more importantly there’s something that we can do about it. We don’t have to just kind of sit back and watch people starve, and we shouldn’t be. So my internship here definitely made me care about this issue more.”


Maria Strinni, a Food Bank spokesman, said many adults and children had Monday off from work or school and the MLK Day of Service was a great opportunity for families to give back and spread Rev. Dr. King’s message.


“Our volunteers are doing several different projects today,” said Jenn Harris, Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator. “They are filling bags of food for kids in the Back Pack Program, repackaging cereal, pasta and pretzels for our snack program and sorting bulk dry food received as donations.”


Harris said the event at the Food Bank, which ran from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., had 200-plus volunteers


"As we remember and honor Dr. King today, it is a privilege to volunteer on this National Day of Service to help an organization, the Food Bank of The Southern Tier, that does so much to provide assistance to people in need right here in our community," said State Assemblyman Philip Palmesano, R-Corning.


Legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This federal holiday was first observed in 1986.


In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort.


frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>