Army of volunteers working to brighten up 8-mile stretch of MLK Drive for the holidays

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CHICAGO — Many Chicagoans are seeing the light of the holiday season as volunteers began decorating several miles of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive on the South Side Sunday.

The lights are going up along an 8-mile stretch of MLK Drive thanks in large part to the group My Block My Hood My City, which took on the massive task of decorating organizing the effort. It's been a long road to get there for founder Jahmal Cole.

"We think that these lights will inspire some hope," Cole said.

Cole said while places like Michigan Avenue bring joy with thousands of lights during the holiday season downtown, he sees this effort doing the same for residents in other parts of Chicago.

"Better than helicopter lights or lights from police cars... I want to see some holiday lights," Cole said. "It’s a time where we all can come together and celebrate each other."

In their second year attempting the feat, Cole and his volunteers are aiming to spread holiday cheer from 51st Street to 115th Street by adding garland and bows to more than 400 city light poles, and decorating homes that signed up with lights and other festive fare.

It'll all be done by an army of volunteers, for free.  Last year, 100 homes took part. This year, the number is closer to 250, Cole said.

"A lot of the homeowners don’t have the money to decorate their home for the holidays," Cole said.

So far, 600 people have answered the call to pitch in a few hours to help with the decorating on one of four days over the next two weeks.

"We have people of all different colors, genders, religions, opinions, ethnicities, occupations coming together to inspire hope... I think Dr. King would be proud of us," Cole said.

There are three more days to volunteer and help with decorating, including next Sunday and the weekend after that. You can also contribute with a donation of lights or cash.

"Instead of blaming big city government for everything, my philosophy is 'what’s something simple I can do that’ll have a positive impact on my block,'" Cole said.

For more information, visit this website or text “MLK lights” to 77222.

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