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Local committee hopes to honor King by having a monthly ‘day of service’


COVID-19 made in-person events for the Martin Luther King Day Breakfast too dangerous this year, but it didn’t stop members of the group from planning an entire year of events for the first time.

Martin Luther King Day, named for the civil rights leader and preacher, is observed by the U.S. government and many volunteer organizations as a “day of service.” The Letcher County event began in the early 2000s, and has been held every year since. Participants are encouraged to go out into their communities and volunteer after the breakfast.

While the Letcher County MLK Day Committee could not hold the annual breakfast, members of the committee will make up for that by having a monthly day of service, beginning with a blood drive next month.

The Rev. Steve Peake, a retired hospital clerk who pastors the Corinth Baptist Church in Fleming, said it was disappointing not to see friends in person, but the Zoom meeting was still “an excellent program” because it allowed people across the country to participate, instead of just people physically in Letcher County.

“In consideration of all things, it was still a success, even though we weren’t able to have it in person,” Peake said. “We drew some people from different areas that weren’t able to be in it when it was in person.”

Peake is one of the members of a committee that also includes Nell Fields of Cowan, Valerie Horn of Cowan, and State Rep. Angie Hatton.

Peake said the online format forced people to think differently about what they can do to keep the event going, which is intended to bring together people of all races in the county. The blood drive was chosen as the first volunteer effort because, as one person on the Zoom call said, “We all have the same blood.”

“That came from not being able to meet in person. You have to get creative and think outside the box,” Peake said.

Valerie Horn, who coordinates the Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprise on the campus of the old Whitesburg High School, said the event will be held February 15 at the CANE Kitchen, and the kitchen will serve a drivethrough lunch. Interested people will plan the next month’s event then.

“ The idea is that we continue the goodwill that comes out during the MLK Day and continue it throughout the year — that we don’t just set it aside,” she said.

She said anyone who would like more information can email her at Valerieisonhorn@gmail.com.

“What we’re thinking of is a community experiment,” she said. “We’re just going to try our best to work together and recognize the needs the community has and do our best to grow a stronger community.”

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