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LYNN — Lynn English High School junior Julianna Romero chose to spend her break from school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day crafting valentines for military veterans and the elderly.
Romero, 16, was one of hundreds of volunteers who chose to make the holiday a “day on,” rather than a “day off” by participating in the city’s ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which was held at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute Monday morning.
“I think it’s important because it’s good to make others feel good about themselves,” said Romero. “Doing cards or something small can make a big impact. The little things matter and can change someone’s life.”
Leo Aquino, a senior at Lynn Classical, said the volunteers were aiming to make 800 Valentine’s cards. He said he saw the day off from school as an opportunity to do something to give back, rather than stay home.
“There’s a lot of things we can do together and contribute,” said Aquino, 17. “Being a part of something big or small is important. If you’re able to give back, you definitely should be giving back to the community.”
Sean Cicero, who manages North Shore AmeriCorps for United Way and was one of the event’s organizers, said the day of service has become a long-standing tradition in the community. The day’s turnout has grown every year, she added.
“It’s important to keep that going and keep this as a day on of service, rather than a day off,” said Cicero. “To see the people come out and celebrate Martin Luther King (Jr.) and his legacy is truly inspiring.”
The day’s other service activities included writing letters to deployed soldiers, creating bookmarks for the Lynn Public Library, painting a MLK-inspired mural, creating fleece blankets, collecting food items for a local food pantry, packing toiletry bags for the Lynn Plummer House and the Lynn Shelter, serving meals at My Brother’s Table and volunteering at local senior centers.
Sydney Boswell, a third grader at KIPP Academy Lynn, spent the morning painting an individual poster, which was later added to a larger MLK-inspired mural that was sprawled out on the gymnasium floor at Lynn Tech.
“I’m making fire because I think that’s very important to the people who are trying to fight for justice so they can vote,” said Boswell, 8. “If we didn’t have (Martin Luther King Jr.) some people wouldn’t be able to vote.”
The MLK Day of Service was a community collaboration among United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Lynn Community Association, LYSOA Inc., Lynn Public Schools, Eastern Bank, the Food Project, La Vida Scholars, Girls Inc., Grace UMC, Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, Raw Art Works, Year Up, Beyond Walls and the Zion Baptist Church.
Brief remarks were delivered by Mayor Thomas M. McGee, Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, a representative from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s (D-Mass) office and Lynn Tech Principal Carissa Karakaedos.