By Robbie Owens

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DALLAS (CBSDFW) – It was with a spirit of gratitude that some 400 volunteers gathered at Dallas’ Concord Church to become ‘Meals on Wheels’ delivery drivers for the day: opting to use their Martin Luther King holiday day ‘off’ as a day ‘in’ the community: serving others.

“It makes you feel accomplished,” says volunteer Brandon Sudduth. “You’re in the community doing servant projects rather than just wasting time away.” Sudduth says he volunteered as a driver last year and was hooked. “Delivering these meals to the people gives me a humble spirit. It allows me to reflect on the less fortunate and just how blessed I am… so anytime I can have a servant heart and give back, I’m more than willing to do it.”

It was a mindset that resonated with many. Charles Brazil brought a group of teens and tweens from the Jack and Jill Chapter of Greater Frisco, to South Oak Cliff in search of a life lesson. “It is a far different world from where Dr. King was growing up,” reflected Brazil, “for us to come out and show our kids that not everyone is blessed the way that we are, that we need to give back to everyone. I think that’s hopefully what kids will get from today’s activity.”

Other parents agree. Regina Whitlock drove from Grapevine looking to teach her teenage daughter the same lesson.

“I want her to be a responsible young woman and have compassion for others– and just give back,” says Whitlock. “She’s been blessed with so much, I feel like it’s time for us to give back.” Although she added quickly, “she’s a wonderful kid, she does a lot, but this is very important for us.”

And it’s also important for the often lonely seniors on the receiving end.

“It makes us feel good to have someone to talk to—at least for a minute or two!” exclaimed George Washington, 81, with a chuckle. His wife Ruby—as long married couples do—quickly overtaking the conversation to explain that the Meals on Wheels deliveries also help the couple stretch their food dollars. “We don’t have to buy lunch.”

A day staffed with volunteers helps the VNA stretch their dollars as well… but, agency staffers say the MLK Day of Service effort also serves as a great outreach and recruitment tool.

“It allows people to see a different part of the world that they normally don’t see,” says Katherine Krause, President & CEO of the VNA. “It really puts people in touch with what’s going on with the struggling seniors who are in their home, hungry.” Beyond today’s effort, Krause expects the agency will also inherit some new volunteers. “People that volunteer today will usually say ‘this is the best thing I’ve ever done—and how can I do this more?’”

Sherry Davis didn’t want to wait until next year. After delivering her meals, she and her kids returned to Concord to pick up another load. “It felt really good,” says Davis, “they were really appreciative.”

And so were the volunteers—for the changes in the world purchased with Dr. King’s sacrifice.

“Dr. Martin Luther King he transformed all of our lives—especially as African Americans,” says Sudduth. “I think he needs to be celebrated even more than we currently do.”

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