WESTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Volunteer Center of United Way anticipates more than 400 Westchester residents will come together to perform acts of service in the name of Martin Luther King Jr. on the MLK Day of Service.
Volunteers will congregate at more than 20 sites in Yonkers, Tarrytown, Somers, Rye, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Mount Kisco and White Plains to give back to their communities on Saturday, January 18.
According to communications manager Amie Getis, this year marks The Volunteer Center's fourth annual effort to commemorate the life of King through service.
"It's really a nationwide effort," she said, "But, locally we help to plan projects that the community can take part in with local community organizations."
Last year's turnout was over 300 volunteers.
"It's staggering the amount of hours that go into it when you have that many people. There is so much effort behind the impact," she said.
Getis explained volunteers get to choose which organizations they work with, and the volunteer center hand selects the organizations that can receive volunteers.
"We put out a request for proposals from partner organizations asking them what they'd like to do for Martin Luther King day," she said, "We then select those projects we can support, put them up and make them available to the public."
Many of the projects on their website are already full.
Getis said people tend to gravitate towards projects where they can see the impact firsthand, like spending time with seniors and children.
"There are a good number of projects that do specifically that. Lots of people want to work directly with the project's beneficiaries," she said.
Additionally, many people sign up for projects combating hunger and homelessness.
"I think it's great that they do, because I think that is one of the main messages of the MLK day of service. Poverty still exists, and you can see how it directly affects our neighbors," she said.
However, some of the projects have very low numbers of volunteers. According to Getis, there is a huge need for outdoor activity volunteers.
"We know it has a lot to do with it being bitterly cold, but there has been not much demand yet for the post-Sandy clean up at Rye Nature Center. It has a huge need for volunteers," she said.
Getis added that all of the Yonkers projects need volunteers as well, along with the MLK Workshop at the Saturday Academy of the White Plains youth bureau.
"It's also a great way to get community service hours," she said, "High school students looking for hours can get it this way."
Additionally, the two participating food drives are always in need of more donations. HOPE Community Services of New Rochelle is in need of general donations, while Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry needs canned soups and boxed cereals.
Getis said that, though this day is being set aside for service, people should do what they can to help every day.
"If people want, they can, for the next week or so, go ahead and do food drives at their workplace. You can serve 365 days of the year," she said.
"The goal is to engage the community with service projects at local community organizations. Anyone can do it, and everyone can take part."
Register to volunteer here.