Local News

McHenry County nonprofits carry on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with volunteer opportunities

Blood drives, presentations highlight local events being held to commemorate the national day of service

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, local nonprofits are providing volunteer opportunities for the residents of McHenry County.

Events throughout the county this weekend include opportunities to give to those in need and to recall King’s work for racial justice and equality during the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which always takes place on the third Monday of January, is recognized as a national day of service.

On Monday, FaithBridge, an interfaith nonprofit organization based in Fox River Grove, will host its 12th annual MLK Prayer Breakfast virtually.

“We’re not going to have breakfast, but it’ll be a presentation,” event organizer Paul Kalmes said.

The presentation will take place at 8 a.m. on Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/98511807415. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Mark Hicks, who spoke at least year’s virtual breakfast. Kalmes described Hicks’ presentation as a “follow-up” to last year’s.

Hicks is director of the Fahs Collaborative Meadville Theological School in Lombard, according to the school’s website.

FaithBridge is an organization that focuses on communication cooperation between different faith groups to find common ground and bring people closer together, Kalmes said.

“If [people] want to do something for MLK Day, we’re there for them,” Kalmes said.

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases forced FaithBridge to make the event virtual for the second year in a row.

“We were going to go live until two weeks ago [when] COVID kind of took over, and doing a breakfast with people seated at tables wasn’t conducive, so we didn’t want to do that to our members who joined us,” Kalmes said.

Despite being forced online by the pandemic, Kalmes said turnout still has been good. Last year about 100 people attended online, compared with about 150 people who normally come in person, he said.

Two blood drives also are being held in the area Saturday morning.

The Knights of Columbus at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake will hold a blood drive in partnership with Versiti from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the church. People interested in donating can go online to register.

Another blood drive will be hosted at the Cary Fire Protection District from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the station at 400 Cary-Algonquin Road in Cary. People who want to make an appointment can call Vitalant at 877-258-4825 or go online to vitalant.org and use the group code ORDOCG40.

Both blood drives are being held just days after the American Red Cross declared the nation’s first-ever blood shortage as blood supply across the country has dropped to levels that could affect patient care and someone’s ability to receiving a blood transfusion.