MLK honored with service, celebrations across Chicago area

CHICAGO — People across Illinois are honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with service projects, meals and celebrations.

Monday's holiday recognizes the civil rights leader, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929. Illinois in 1973 was the first state to declare his birthday a holiday.

Serve Illinois, the state's commission on volunteerism, encouraged residents to "make it a day on, not a day off."

In Chicago, the Obama Foundation is teaming with a youth volunteer organization to prepare lunch for young people at a center for homeless youth. The DuSable Museum of African-American History is holding its annual family program with music, lectures and crafts.

Five-hundred volunteers are helping remodel the Deneen School of Excellence in the city's Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood.

They're being joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pritzker, and other elected officials.

"As they were prepping the school, (the students) were so interested," said Deneen teacher Nathan strong.

Volunteers painted inspirational sayings and murals.

The event was organized by City Year.

It shines a spotlight on service as a powerful force to bridge social divides and to improve educational opportunities for students across Chicago.

"I think that look and feel when you walk is really important. Because when you see murals that have values and morals and beliefs, you are part of a community," said Jennifer Cervantes. "So when you come in, especially to see such a huge transformation, it has an impact when you walk into the building."

PUSH EXCEL hosted a Dr. King scholarship breakfast at the Hyatt on Wacker.

The program gives financial resources to high-potential teens so they can go to college.

Springfield's free celebration at the MassMutual Center will feature local gospel choirs, dance and other performances.

The NAACP is hosting its 37th annual MLK Day breakfast in Carbondale.

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