The 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Penn Charter was held virtually. Students, parents, OPCs and friends engaged in public purpose work from home and at a small number of organizations — an impressive collective effort.

yellow chalk on a sidewalk reads Share the Dream. Surrounded by pink lines and hearts

Families gathered online in the morning, beginning with the Convocation offered by fifth grade. Students read poetry, quotes from Dr. King, and shared their hopes for the future. Fifth grade student Sydney H. introduced keynote speaker Stephanie Keene, program manager for Ethical Global Learning at Haverford College. Keene is a writer, educator and creator based in Philadelphia. 

Said fifth grader Zara S. as part of her opening words in the Convocation, “And we should not forget his legacy and make his dream ours to preserve…” 

Keene spoke to students and families about the importance of community — and supporting one another — in the work of justice, education, equity and empathy. She lifted up the words and work of Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin, who worked closely with Dr. King, but whose names we don’t hear as much in the discussions of the civil rights movement. Keene noted that there are names we may never know, but that their efforts were important. “We need each other,” Keene said. “We can support each other as we work together for freedom and justice.”

As part of the virtual day, students, teachers and community leaders offered learning sessions on food insecurity, educational equity, and the environment, among others, in keeping with the three main foci of PC’s Center for Public Purpose. See the learning sessions on Philabundanceenvironmental racism and public education inequities.

Using materials the Service Council and fifth grade students collected and organized, families worked from home to create 47 clothing packs for Cradles to Crayons, made 57 meals for DePaul House and the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN), sewed 98 face masks for Face to Face Germantown, made and decorated 183 seed packs for family kitchen gardens for Food Moxie, gathered 131 bundles of books for Treehouse Books, made 27 handmade fleece blankets for Turning Points, assembled 114 Hygiene Kits for Whosoever Gospel Mission and created a remarkable amount of beautiful cards and crafts for Atria, Cradles to Crayons and Ronald McDonald House.

Some families chose to participate in in-person, socially distanced service at SHARE, DePaul House and Historic Rittenhouse Town. View photos from the day on Flickr.