The fresh scent of paint wafted through the hallways at Anna Blakiston Day School on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service as 140 volunteers helped paint the first and second floors of the school, the bathrooms and teacher lounges. The school also accepted coat donations throughout the day and held a free “first time homebuyer” workshop and art class for children.
A.B. Day School Principal Karen White, serving her first year at the helm, said Monday she felt, “fortunate and blessed.” This was the Trolley Car Diner and Café’s first year holding both an MLK Day of Service at A.B. Day School and coat drive on the holiday. Usually, the coat drive begins in mid-November and ends before the Dr. King holiday. Last year, about six hundred coats were collected during the coat drive, according to Ken Weinstein, owner of both the diner and café establishments. The amount of coats collected this year at all three locations has not yet been counted.
The coat drive has perpetuated the spirit of generosity among Trolley Car Diner and Café patrons over the years, prompting them to drop off their donations as soon as the time of year rolls around. “Whether or not we do it, people will keep bringing their coats because they know it’s an outlet every year to clean out their closets and help other people,” Weinstein said.
Monday morning, both Weinstein and Mt. Airy USA Executive Director Anuj Gupta gave their second welcoming remarks together. This was the Trolley Car’s second year partnering with Mt. Airy USA, but Weinstein has hosted MLK Day of Service events for a decade at ten different public schools in Mt. Airy and Germantown. Last year volunteers worked at Roosevelt Middle School.
Gupta began his remarks Monday by telling the crowded auditorium of volunteers that the MLK Memorial is worth the trip to Washington, DC. He recounted that while taking a photo of his two and a half-year-old daughter, the monument towered over her and brought him to think of Dr. King’s everlasting impression on society. The towering monument, he felt, resonated with Dr. King’s powerful presence even today. “It’s his words, his deeds and most of all, his thoughts that have such a large presence in our society today,” Gupta said. “And that’s what we are here to celebrate. So thank you for not sleeping in this morning, for not going shopping or any of the other things you might do on an ordinary day off because this is not an ordinary day off.”
Aside from Mt. Airy neighbors in the area, other volunteers included groups from the nonprofit behavioral health organization Devereux, students from George High School, Drexel University students participating in the Temple-CORE program, New Covenant Church members, folks from Mt. Airy USA and Surratt Painting, Inc.