Kristine Schlismann, spokesperson for Joliet Township High School District 204, said Joliet-based organizations, agencies, faith-based institutions, day cares and schools may submit.
The MLK Day of Service is a Joliet Township High School event in partnership with the African American Business Association and Ericka Williams, Schlismann said.
Project suggestions include painting, organizing, cleaning, stocking food pantries, making blankets for the homeless, making valentines for veterans, packaging care packages and facilitating activities for nursing home residents, Schlismann said.
The deadline to submit a project is Nov. 30. The volunteer registration deadline is Dec. 1. Forms and more information are at jths.org.
Last year, 500 volunteers worked on 25 service projects, Schlismann said. Volunteers range from age 2 to people in their 80s and are matched to projects based on age and abilities, she said.
“What I love about this event is that it’s an opportunity for individuals of all ages to come together and to complete service,” Schlismann said.
Schlismann said her own children were 3 and 4 when they started volunteering with her. Entire families can serve side by side “and complete service in the honor and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” she said.
“We just volunteered as a family,” Schlismann said. “And it’s become a tradition in our family.”
One staff person must be on-site during the event, and AABA will provide project managers, which is new for 2024, Schlismann said.
Christopher Parker, AABA board chairman, suggested it after he volunteered last year.
“He saw a need and he jumped right in,” Schlismann said. “I think we have the potential to grow it even more with their involvement. I’m so grateful.”
Streamlining the process may inspire greater collaboration and make a “more robust” community impact, Parker said.
“Our community needs it,” Parker said. “We just need more people coming together. Government programs can’t do it all.”
On event day, volunteers will meet in the Joliet Central High School Student Center cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast courtesy of Louie’s Waffle House, Home Cut Donuts and Great American Bagel, Schlismann said.
What I love about this event is that it’s an opportunity for individuals of all ages to come together and to complete service.”— Kristine Schlismann, spokesperson for Joliet Township High School District 204
Volunteers will complete projects from 9 a.m. to noon and then return to Joliet Central for a taco lunch from Canijo Tacos and family-friendly entertainment by Gabe Lozano from RIELTYME Creative Solutions of the Chicago Bulls, Schlismann said.
The NAACP Joliet chapter will bring beverages, and National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. will provide snacks, she said.
The Community Services Council contributes financially to the event, she said.`