As a program officer with the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Press Center, I help make sure foreign journalists reporting on the United States have access to U.S. government officials and receive information on U.S. foreign policy. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share with a group of foreign journalists one of America's greatest traditions -- volunteerism.
On a cold, brisk Saturday morning, the journalists and I joined volunteers from all walks of life at the D.C. Armory, where individuals were assembling personal care kits for U.S. service members, first responders, and wounded warriors. Grandmothers, students, families, and military veterans were united together at the armory, as they participated in this National Day of Service project to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The atmosphere inside the armory was full of high energy. So many of the volunteers told the journalists how enthusiastic they were to be there. One of the volunteers talked about how inspiring it was to work alongside people from all over the country. She described the event as "giving with." She also said she hoped the recipients of these packages would feel the love from the many hands that had assembled the care packages.
Vice President Joe Biden and his family stopped by the armory to thank the volunteers for their time. After putting together care packages himself, Vice President Biden told the crowd that Martin Luther King, Jr. instilled "this notion of absolute service." He thanked the volunteers for making the kits, supporting military families, and honoring the memory of Dr. King "through service." The event was sponsored by Points of Light, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and Target. Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light, told the foreign journalists that this was a signature event for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and up to 10,000 volunteers from all over the country were expected to participate in similar activities.
The Foreign Press Center organized this reporting tour in recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, highlighting volunteerism in the United States. Journalists from Australia, Germany, Colombia, Hong Kong, Romania, and Spain participated, and were impressed to see so many people donating their time.
One of the lessons of the day, though, was this: meaningful community service isn't a one-time commitment -- it's an ongoing pledge to take action in your community on a regular basis. If you are living in the United States, you can learn more about volunteerism in your community by visiting serve.gov. If you would like to find opportunities to support America's veterans and military families, please visit whitehouse.gov/joiningforces.