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Salisbury Academy holds day of service to honor MLK

SALISBURY – Students from Salisbury Academy celebrated the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday through a day of service.

Students from grades three to eight went to Rowan Helping Ministries to clean, pack food and mix beans to be packed into bags. The academy created a day-of-service elective, called “exploratories” at the school, to organize the event as well.

The day began with a chapel service, led by middle school students, about King’s message. Students also produced a video about the influence King has had on the lives of community leaders.

“Today, we are excited to live out this dream with all of you,” said fifth-grader Adalyn Yost.

Food being packed was for Rowan Helping Ministries’ weekend backpack program. Local students in need who are enrolled in the program receive supplementary food that’s packed into backpacks at the end of each week to hold them over until Monday. Students may have free or reduced-price meals through Rowan-Salisbury Schools during the school year, but that food assistance goes away during the weekend.

The backpack program serves more than 200 students.

Food, emergency assistance, clothing and a homeless shelter are all part of Rowan Helping Ministries programs. The nonprofit also has coaching sessions to help clients lead more stable lives, counseling them on managing their finances so they can become more independent.

Rowan Helping Ministries Director of Community Relations Erica Taylor said the emergency services help community members who may be employed but have a crisis in their lives.

“Whether it’s an unexpected medical diagnosis, house fires or laid off from the job, they come in for supplemental groceries through our food pantry.” Taylor said. “Some of them get clothing through our clothing center, which is 100% community donated and about 97% of the food in our pantry is from the community.”

Taylor said self-sufficiency is important to Rowan Helping Ministries. The nonprofit wants to help people overcome their crises and give them resources needed to no longer need the organization’s services.

“We want to guide them to a better place,” Taylor said.

While some people are able to relax on their time off, sixth-grader Luke Bardinas said there are people who have to live on the street, and he believes everyone should be able to enjoy themselves.

Taylor said kids who do not go hungry have better cognitive development and are better able to focus in school. The backpack program is supposed to help kids thrive to give them a better chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

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