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Oregon celebrates MLK with Day of Service

MLK Day of Service file

By Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, organizations around the country and the state of Oregon have turned MLK Day into a day of volunteering.

The MLK Day of Service began as a way for folks to give back on their day off from work. Oregon Food Bank honors the day with its biggest event for volunteers of the year.

Susannah Morgan, CEO of Oregon Food Bank, estimates 500 to 700 people will show up at the organization's headquarters in northeast Portland to repack food for distribution. She says people are eager to help.

"Honoring Dr. King by sleeping in and making yourself pancakes is nice, but honoring Dr. King by following his vision and actually trying to build a more just community is even better," she states.

The organization helps serve more than 800,000 people a year. About one in seven Oregonians is considered food insecure, meaning they don't have sufficient access to affordable food. More than a third of food insecure Oregonians are children.

Last year, Oregon Food Bank volunteers repacked about 82,000 pounds of food -- equivalent to more than 68,000 meals.

The organization is the hub for 21 regional food banks across the state and in southwest Washington, as well as 1,400 food pantries, meal sites, after-school programs and senior centers.

Morgan says that means volunteers are touching many lives.

"What's unique about Oregon Food Bank is our scale -- we're able to do it at a much larger scale than most nonprofits can -- and the impact," she states. "Because we have this statewide system, in a short period of time folks can handle a lot of food to get out to the neighbors who are experiencing hunger."

Bank of America and Pacific Power are sponsoring Oregon Food Bank's MLK Day of Service.

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