CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a ‘national day of service.’ So, in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organizations all across the Charlotte area joined together Monday, volunteering in service projects to improve their communities.

In west Charlotte, roughly 30 Duke Energy employees volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, starting construction on a new home being built for a local single mother. 

“MLK Day is just an amazing day for people to come together and to give back to the community,” construction site supervisor Katie Hanchuruck said.

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Across town at Hidden Valley Elementary School, a food drive was underway. Volunteers there spent the morning making sandwiches and packing more than 2,500 lunches. 

“We understand that this school is about 30% homeless, they’re 100% free or reduced lunch," said Christopher Land, director of the Young Black Leadership Alliance. "So on a day like today when they don’t have school, a lot of students aren’t eating.” 

Charlotte-area honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with day of service

In addition to feeding students at Hidden Valley Elementary, Land said the packed lunches were also delivered to three other Title 1 schools, including Paw Creek, Villa Heights and Reid Park Academy. 

Land said the organization’s teen leaders organized and ran the event. 

“Our three pillars are service, education and leadership, so we do various things throughout the community and we try to make it a better place,” said Bryce Teixiria, a senior at Lake Norman Charter and ambassador for YBLA. 

The packed lunch didn't stop at a sandwich and snack -- the teens also included handwritten notes with words of encouragement and hope. 

“Just writing encouraging messages so when they get their sandwiches, they’ll have a nice notecard to go with them,” said Delshawn Thompson, who attends Ardrey Kell High School.

The teens also stocked the school’s pantry and opened-up the school’s gym offering activities and games.

“It’s an opportunity to be in a safe place," Hidden Valley Elementary Principal Daniel Gray said. "They’re here at school engaging in activities being around friends, being around positive people to help make their lives more positive."

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