Iowa City organizations help the community on MLK Day of Service


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For some, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become a day to relax and take a day off from work, but local do-gooders proved otherwise — many participated in volunteer projects and food drives throughout the community.

The University of Iowa and Iowa City community designated Monday as the Day of Service, with agencies such as the Iowa City Shelter House and Crisis Center participating.

“I think [the Day of Service] is a really neat idea,” said Beth Ritter Ruback, the communications and development director for the Crisis Center. “Most of the time, we usually see an outpouring of volunteers in December, around the holidays, and when people are thinking about giving. Then, in January, the numbers go way down.”

Forty members of the Vineyard Community Church, 2205 E. Grantview Drive, Coralville, donated their time Monday to help demolish a building run by the Crisis Center in order for renovations to occur.

President Obama participated in the National Day of Service by aiding in school-improvement projects in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19. The president asked Americans to participate in a Day of Service to highlight the importance of giving back to one’s community and to honor King’s life.

The Crisis Center is focusing on an a task called the 1105 Project, in which a building is being renovated to host a multitude of organizations including having a free-lunch program, having meeting places for the Rape Victim Advocacy Program and the Alliance for Mental Illness, as well as other community outreach programs. The Crisis Center hopes to finish the renovation in December.

The Vineyard Community Church has had a relationship with the Crisis Center for many years, and it was willing to help cut costs with the 1105 Project by helping wo work the building.

“We have definitely a diverse community, and it’s very meaningful to spend our day of service this way,” Vineyard Community Church pastor Tom Wassink said.

The Crisis Center also hopes to recycle items from the building.

Crisis Center officials have high hopes for the 1105 Project and are pleased with the help they received on the Day of Service.

“It may not seem glamorous to take ceiling tiles out to the Dumpsters, but with most nonprofits, we work over 40 hours a week, and we just can’t do this on our own,” Ritter Ruback said.

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