Ready to serve

Two local agencies are seeking people to volunteer their time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to help spread the word about free services available in Jackson County to assist low-income families.

Jackson County United Way and the Jackson County Education Coalition are partnering to distribute door hangers as part of a day of service Jan. 18. Many government offices, schools and other businesses are closed that day in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Bonita Dobbs, United Way program manager, said instead of taking a day off, people should find ways to honor King through community service and giving back.

“United Way strives to connect the community with opportunities to volunteer, and we know many people have a day off and might be looking for an opportunity to serve for an hour or two,” Dobbs said. “Giving back to the community is easy; this MLK Day will help others learn about two great resources here to serve them; it will be a day on, not a day off.”

Around 60 volunteers are needed to canvas neighborhoods to hang door hangers in several locations in Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Seymour.

The two-sided door hangers provide information about United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the state-funded On My Way Pre-K program.

“We really wanted a collaborative event that showcased two programs supporting hard-working, low to moderate income families,” Dobbs said. “Both programs are so important to families in our community that are working hard, but not getting by.”

Volunteers will receive brief training with talking points, and then will go in pairs to share information about VITA and On My Way Pre-K.

“We anticipate each volunteer will knock on doors in specific targeted neighborhoods for approximately two hours,” Dobbs said. “We hope the volunteers learn more about our programs, enjoy being an advocate for the working individuals and families and have meaningful interactions to encourage the people to use these valuable resources.”

Families that receive VITA assistance are saving approximately $300 in income tax filing fees, securing their refund within 7 to 10 days and receiving brief financial education during their VITA session.

On My Way Pre-K sets children up for success by providing them with high-quality preschool at no cost, children who otherwise may not be prepared for kindergarten.

In the past, Jackson County United Way has organized service activities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with AmeriCorps members, including a collection of sports equipment for local schools and a community meal for the hungry, but this is the first year it is a community-wide volunteer event.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love,’” Dobbs said.

At a glance

For more information on how you can volunteer, please contact Bonita Dobbs at 812-522-5450 or bonita@jacsy.org or Natasha Langford at 812-519-2923, ext. 304 or natasha@jceconline.org

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.