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The Highland Park Landmark 012518

4 | January 25, 2018 |

4 | January 25, 2018 | The highland park landmark news hplandmark.com Highland Park MLK Day of Service brings service to 1K attendees Hilary Anderson Freelance Reporter State Senator Julie Morrison greets Sergeant Dennis Markoutsas, of Highland Park, and writes a letter to a recovering veteran. photos by Claire Esker/22nd Century Media Several inches of newly fallen snow did not keep Highland Park residents from continuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service and giving back to their community. More than 1,000 people gathered at the Highland Park Recreation Center and participated in Highland Park’s Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service Jan. 15. The City of Highland Park’s Human Relations Commission and the Park District of Highland Park sponsored the event. “We have 36 exhibitors showcasing service projects in the area,” said Jennifer Bernstein, a coordinator of the event. “We started nine years ago with three exhibitors. It shows that Martin Luther King’s legacy of service continues in earnest.” Many Highland Park residents hosted or participated in the day’s service projects. One of them was Cody Weiss, a Highland Park High School freshman who volunteers his time at one of District 112’s after school clubs. “I like volunteering,” Weiss said. “It is as simple as that.” Weiss added he volunteered at the Rotary Interact Club. “I helped people with cancer, especially kids,” he said. “A friend of mine had cancer.” Olivia Kashy, 7, was at Highland Park’s Legal Aid Clinic with her mother, Stacy, making glittery friendship pins. “People tend to sometimes become invisible in a large community,” said Stacy Kashy. “The purpose of the pins is to let newcomers or others who may be vulnerable know you are a ‘safe’ person with whom to talk or ask for help. “I was surprised my daughter knew who MLK was,” Stacy Kashy added. “She learned about him in her second-grade class.” Jennifer Freeman encouraged the day’s participants to make donations to the Parks Foundation of Highland Park’s “Give a Smile” grant-in-aid program. “This is a 501(c)(3) taxdeductible program that provides opportunities for everyone to have access to Park District programs regardless of their family’s financial situation,” said Freeman. “People can also donate a bench or plant a tree for someone through this program.” Freeman also delighted in showing passersby the Kindness Rock Project. Two baskets full of tiny, decorated rocks had uplifting messages on them and were there for the taking. One had rocks decorated in honor of a child who had passed away. “We will put them on the ground around Highland Park in spring,” Freeman said. “People can pick up one and carry it around in their pocket. When they see another, they can replace it with one they found.” Phil Kaplan, president of Working Bikes, encouraged people to give their old bikes new homes. “We are asking people to donate old, any size, but working bikes, that can be repaired, if necessary, and donated to people who need them in Chicago and even far away places like Africa and Central America.” Kaplan added Highland Park’s Trek Bike Shop participates in the program. Interested individuals can bring their bikes to the shop and receive the needed forms for possible tax deduction purposes. “MLK represents peaceful resolutions,” said Amy Gudgeon. “These displays will be relocated in public places for all to read and ponder.” “It is everybody’s job to bring peace into their lives,” said Naomi Coleman, 11. “Every day I see news about shootings for no reason and ruining immigrants’ lives who have done nothing wrong. It is sad.” Highland Park employee Lynn Epps did a reading from King and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech after the exhibits closed. “Epps’ rendition was from the heart and the spirit and brought tears to my eyes,” Highland Park Pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Evanston, Michael Nabors (middle), along with daughter, Parker (right), 8, greet Ravinia representative Michelle Ricol (left). A Jesse White Tumbler clears a pyramid of his teammates. Mayor Nancy Rotering said. “Thank you for making this a day of service. Dr. King once said that everyone can be great and greatness is determined by service. You have shown by participating in this event that you are great by giving your time, resources and service to others.”

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