AURORA — For some people, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day means a long weekend. For others, it is a chance to volunteer their time and serve the community.
The holiday is the only one designated as a national day of service, according to AmeriCorps. One of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s nephews said memories of his uncle demonstrate the level of dedication the social rights activist embodied.
"He was constantly on the road, moving around the country. So, he was coming in off the road, and he sometimes would need a little nap and then he was headed back out," said Isaac Newton Farris Jr., recalling his uncle at family gatherings. "He was very fun to be around. My uncle used to like to make people laugh and play little practical jokes. And so, my memories are those, and riding my bike with him and such."
In Aurora, dozens of volunteers gathered to prepare hundreds of meals for people in need, in honor of Dr. King's passion for uplifting communities.
“If you're off because it's a holiday, take that time to reflect. What does the holiday mean? What does it mean to you? And how do you want to represent that holiday?" said Regina Edmondson, owner and operator of CME Catering Services. “Food is a form of communication, and so when you're able to go out into the community and give food, you're communicating to everyone, 'We see you, we care about you, we love you, we're here for you.'”
Edmondson says her catering service partnered with Brother Jeff's Cultural Center to make the food donations possible. The meals were distributed throughout the Denver metro area to people who had filled out a form online describing their needs.
“Honestly, the thing that keeps going on in my mind is, 'This could be me. I could be on the other end of this,'" said Jason Lester, who volunteered his time Monday. “I'm contributing to something bigger than myself."
Many of the volunteers say this opportunity to give back is something Dr. King would have supported.
“This is what it's all about. This is what he would have wanted," said volunteer Stephen Walker. "It’s all about helping the other human being if you can.”
Those behind the service say this is the second year they have done this in Aurora. However, Brother Jeff's Cultural Center has hosted similar events in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day since 1995.
Meanwhile, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family spent Monday promoting new federal laws that would make it easier for people across the country to vote.
“Your voice is heard, it is noted. And that’s why it is of the utmost importance that the Congress and our president, Democrats and Republicans, must find a way to restore the sanctity of our voting process in America," said Farris, Jr. "If we don’t, we’re in for a lot of hurt, hate, and violence."