Gunn, 12, a student at O’Brien Middle School in Reno, was one of more than 50 children who took part in activities at The Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The club participated in a silent march, community clean-up and a speech performance.
“You can always keep trying to reach your dream and not stop,” Gunn said after listening to one of King’s memorable speeches.
At the club facility on Ninth Street, a staff member delivered King’s speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” originally given by King on April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. King was assassinated the following day.
The speech primarily concerned a strike by sanitation workers. King called for unity, economic actions, nonviolent protest and called on the U.S. to meet its ideals. He also talked about the possibility of an untimely death and how he was not afraid of it. He spoke about already reaching the mountain top and seeing the promised land.
Allison Bibbey, 11, of Spanish Springs Elementary School, said her favorite part of the day was listening to the speech.
“He conquered his goal,” Bibbey said. When asked what her goal in life was, she answered, “I want to be the first girl president.”
Roxy Patterson, 11, said her goal was to make it to the Junior Olympics as a track star.
“Even though I’ve already made it,” she said.
Children at the club created art work before the event and carried signs during the silent march to Paradise Park. The signs depicted King’s face or words such as “I have a Dream.”
Tina Colliver, the club’s education director, said she wanted to hold a silent march this year to get the children more involved.
“I wanted kids to get more involved and more aware of why people have the day off and why people should be celebrating this day,” Colliver said.
An art exhibit was unveiled displaying works by members at the club’s 18 sites, showcasing legendary African American historical figures and events.
The club also invited members of the club Ambition Beauty Leadership Equality (ABLE) Women from the University of Nevada, Reno and actress Evetter Perry-Buchanan, who later was the guest speaker at the 24th annual dinner in King’s honor at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.
Also on Monday, 90 new volunteers took on the challenge of the Martin Luther King National Day of Service by participating in instructional sessions at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
The distribution center was packed with 183,000 pounds of donated food following holiday food drives around the region, said spokeswoman Jocelyn Lantrip. Although the organization holds volunteer sessions regularly, Monday’s event was put together with three classes to honor the day of service.
“It’s gone really well,” Lantrip said. “It’s been great. You kind of see the scope of the real picture of hunger in our society. It really kind of makes it real for you.”
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading the effort. Each year on the third Monday in January, this is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service.
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada decided to hold three sessions instead of closing for the holiday, Lantrip said. This year, the sessions were filled by last week.
All of the food sorted by volunteers will be given to affiliated agencies in February. Lantrip expects it will be distributed to people in need by the end of March.
“It used to last a lot longer. We’re going through it a lot faster,” Lantrip said.
To view a schedule of volunteer classes or sign up, visit www.fbnn.org.