Martin Luther King Day 2020

Participants in a March for Unity proceed along Linden St. in Wilmington Monday morning as part of Martin Luther King Day in the city

Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds gathered in Wilmington for several community initiatives and a March for Unity in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday.

For many, the day began picking up trash and debris in sub-freezing temperatures.

Jack Lazarski was one of more than 30 Sanford School students who came to Wilmington for a day of service.

"I think it's important today because obviously it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I really think it's just important to do something to continue on with his legacy," Lazarski said as he and his team were wrapping up their clean-up effort in Hedgeville.

"We want a better community, so we have a safer place for kids to have fun," added Elisha Carter, an adult volunteer.

A coinciding cleanup was also going on in Riverside, organized by Teen Warehouse, I Am My Sister's Keeper and The Brothers Brunch. Participants then joined up for a March for Unity that proceeded from Parkway Academy to the Youth Empowerment Program.

The march was held "to show the City of Wilmington that even if you come from different sides of town you can unite and do something in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Teen Warehouse Director Melody Phillips said.

State Senator Tizzie Lockman, D- Wilmington, called it one of the best days of the year.

"It's just an opportunity for us to come together and think about our values and think about all of the changes that we've been talking about for decades in this country that we want to see, raise our voices the way Martin Luther King did and promote unity the way Martin Luther King did in the hope we'll make more progress this year and every year," Lockman said. 

About 200 Wilmington families and individuals in need benefited from a mobile food pantry that was set up on French Street outside St. Joseph's Church Monday. Volunteers placed boxes and bags of perishable and non-perishable foods into the trunks and back seats of vehicles driven by grateful local citizens.

"This is something we put in place about a month ago. I thought it would be great, especially for those living in the 19801 area," State Representative Stephanie T. Boulden (D- Wilmington) said.

Kim Turner of the Food Bank of Delaware said the program was the result of a USDA program that assists farmers who have been impacted by trade retaliation.

"Food banks across the nation are receiving free food from USDA that they're purchasing, and we get to distribute to families in need," Turner said.

"It's also a day of history, to learn the history and the purpose of what's going on here, why Martin Luther King was the person he was," Boulden said.