Margo Levin and her 13-year-old son, Ari, filled up plastic bags with rice and seasonings and a recipe for Spanish rice on Monday morning to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service.

“I am acknowledging the civil rights movement to remind us that we are all equal,” Ari said, as he participated in the third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks and the Immanuel United Church of Christ, Shillington.

Margo Levin said it is important that during the coronavirus pandemic and the intense political climate that we do not forget that everyone is equal.

Tracy Weiss, 48, of Wyomissing, said that it’s important the children learn to give back to the community.

“Everybody should help each other,” she said.

Helping one another and working together was the theme of the day at the church where volunteers were dropping off food and beverages to benefit Helping Harvest, a food bank that distributes food to people struggling with hunger in Berks and Schuylkill counties.

Everyone was wearing a mask and working 6 feet apart in the church social hall and outside on the front lawn on Waverly Street.

More than 100 volunteers participated throughout the day.

“We are all working to make the world a better place,” said Amanda J. Hornberger, program director of the Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks.

Megan Huesgen, pastor of Immanuel United Church of Christ, said the interfaith activity teaches the children about working together with one another.

“Loving your neighbor is a common Christian and Jewish value,” Huesgen said.

Huesgen then quoted King: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

The pastor said that people were looking to do something special on the holiday.

“It took a lot of creativity to set this up in a COVID safe way,” Huesgen said.

In the church kitchen, a group of volunteers was preparing soups for the Souper Bowl of Caring to provide hot soup to the hungry on Super Bowl Sunday, on Feb. 7.

Andrew Huesgen, 14, the pastor’s son, said he feels great spending the day with his friends to help people.

Marisol Martinez, 42, and her daughter, Aalyah, 8, of West Reading, were working outside at a table tying knots on the fringes of a felt blanket to be donated to the community.

The mother and daughter said they enjoyed spending the holiday working together to help others.


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