CRANFORD, NJ — The holiday that honors the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated annually by one Cranford
resident who organized a Day of Service Fair on Monday, Jan. 15.
This year, a large crowd of people of varying ages gathered at the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m to create bookmarks, placemats, cards and other assorted crafts for charitable organizations.
Several organizations, including Raphael’s Life House, Meals on Wheels, Children’s Specialized Hospital, active duty soldiers and veterans from the Lyons and East Orange VA hospitals were among them many supported through hands-on projects.
Church member Janice Grevious began the fair in 2012 as a way to echo King’s approach to community service.
“The goal of the service fair is based on Dr. King’s legacy of building community by serving others and working together for a common cause,” Grevious wrote in a Jan. 9 email to LocalSource. “We honor the day by collecting and donating goods and making projects that will help to support various service organizations.”
Now in its sixth year, the fair has increased the number of participants and donations, Grevious said. Additionally, a communitywide donation effort asks for personal products to support Covenant House and Community Access Unlimited. Both groups provide shelter, food, immediate crisis care and other services to at-risk adolescents, and homeless and runaway youth.
“After talking with representatives from agencies, we decided to make helping these teenagers our big collection goal by donating the personal care items of a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and deodorant,” Grevious said.
The main goal was to assemble 1,000 personal care product packages during the Jan. 15 event, and while many contributed to the collection drive at the fair, Grevious said donations will continue to be collected in several boxes located throughout Cranford until Jan. 21.
The boxes are placed at the Municipal Building at 8 Springfield Ave., the Cranford Public Library at 224 Walnut Ave. and the Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Ave. In earlier years, the collection drive supported the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside and received enough donations to fill approximately 800 backpacks with food, Grevious told LocalSource.
“What better opportunity to honor the legacy of Dr. King and continue to build on the greatness of our community by interacting with others, creating a craft, while enjoying homemade light refreshments,” she said.