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MLK Day Sparks Student Service at TFES, Temple Ambler

Some of Upper Dublin's youngest and oldest students gave back in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was alive and well in Upper Dublin Monday. Students young and old(er) participated in two separate events in the township: the first, a day of service at , the second a blanket creation and donation event on the campus of .

At Thomas Fitzwater, over a hundred students, parents and teachers joined together to hear from motivational speaker Andrea Lawful-Trainer before participating in five different service projects.

"I talked to the kids about being kind to each other, helping your neighbors on the street and keeping your community clean," said Lawful-Trainer, who is also a school board director in Abington Township. "To be kind to others, even if they're not to you."

The students then put that message of service into practice, breaking out into different areas. One group painted cheetahs and paw prints in the school cafeteria in honor of the school’s mascot-- a much needed visual overhaul.

"The day started out as a vision of [TFES principal] Alston's, and he thought for Martin Luther King Day, that it would be a great idea to paint these four walls, as we've had the same murals for over 20 years," said Brenda Ricci, a math coach at Thomas Fitzwater tasked with organizing the day. "We had over one hundred people sign up, and we thought we can't have them all in here painting."

Instead, the school expanded its scope by also running a coat and toy drive, putting together care packages for cancer patients and writing thank you letters to members of the military. According to Ricci, the toys will go to underprivileged families in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, the care packages to patients at Abington Memorial Hospital and the coats to an organization in Bucks County.

At the letter writing station, the students were given a series of starters such as "You make America feel…" and "Thank you for…" to help them create cards for troops stationed overseas. The dozens of letters will be distributed to the military though a connection of one of the TFES parents.

"All of these items were donated by people in the school, so it even goes beyond the hundred people here today," said Ricci.

Meanwhile, at the campus of Temple Ambler, a group of slightly older students gathered in the lounge of Bright Hall for a "no-sew" blanket creation project. The Temple Ambler Owl Reach service group, in coordination with the student activity office, organized the event.

"Basically what we do is pair fabric together and pin them, so all [participants] have to do is cut the lines, and you have nice, soft blankets to keep warm in the winter," said Owl Reach President and Temple Ambler junior Celeste D'Orazio.

The lounge was organized into several blanket-making stations, with a selection of brightly colored fabrics for participants to choose from. A projector played TV nearby and pizza was served for lunch to help provide a friendly atmosphere

The project was designed to be open to all students and faculty, regardless of skill level, said Lauren Bullock, Coordinator of Student Activities at the campus.

"We did one last semester, but on a smaller scale, so this time we expanded it and opened it up to the entire campus," said Bullock. "Whether it's ten minutes or an hour, students are encouraged to drop by for whatever time they can give. You don't need any experience, all you need is your hands."

The no-sew blankets will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The lounge also served as a drop off point for a separate service event, in which donated blankets would Chosen 300 ministries, a Philadelphia-based organization run by a former Temple Ambler grad.

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