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Hundreds of volunteers throughout the region on Monday cleared trash, packed hygiene kits for gun violence victims, rallied for peace and justice, and distributed food and clothing to those experiencing homelessness. The activities were part of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer effort in honor of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Philadelphia resident Ellie Hulit cuts back invasive honeysuckle vines at Sweetbriar Mansion in West Fairmount Park. She was one of about 50 volunteers who gathered at the historic property on Martin Luther King Day to rake leaves, pick up trash, and cut back invasive vines. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
This year marks the 29th annual MLK Day of Service.
“I always try to volunteer, I can’t just get a free day off,” said Kevin Inoa, one of about 60 volunteers armed with clippers and rakes who cut back English Ivy and Oriental bittersweet vines from trees near Sweetbriar Mansion in West Fairmount Park.
“[Martin Luther King Jr.] broke barriers,” Inoa said. “He made a huge impact in the right direction to help people towards freedom. I grew up here. I love doing anything I can for the city.”
Volunteer leader Morgan Doyle gives instructions during a Martin Luther King Day of Service event at Sweetbriar Mansion in West Fairmount Park. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
Others, like Morgan Doyle, clear invasive species on a weekly basis in Fairmount Park.
“Climate action is really important to me,” said Doyle, a lead volunteer with Fairmount Park Conservancy, which organized the event. “I feel like climate change is a huge problem, and it stresses me out a lot, so a small thing that I can do in my community is keep removing invasive species and really support the ecosystem within Fairmount Park.”
Keena Miles, a landscape architect from Philadelphia, cuts back invasive vines during a Martin Luther King Day of Service event at Sweetbriar Mansion in West Fairmount Park. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
The park is awash in non-native species that can take over, making it difficult for native pollinators and birds to thrive.