The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service focuses around volunteers in parks, but what kind of service can the park do for its community? At Guilford Courthouse NMP, we benefited from seventeen VIPs clearing acorns and plants from our Visitors Center. In an effort to expand upon Dr. King’s philosophy of service, I took a cue from other National Parks, and hosted a Winter Supplies/Clothing Drive for Greensboro’s homeless citizens and homeless veterans. I hoped to draw attention to the issues homeless persons face, and the percentage of homeless veterans in Greensboro. Our park commemorates the soldiers of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and hosts events commemorating veterans of all American wars.
Through the Drive, the staff and I engaged with regular visitors and park walkers in new ways! The majority of our donors walk in our park, or are Daughters of the American Revolution members who participate in events. Along with park staff, thirty donors contributed 1,140 items! We collected blankets, coats, scarves, gloves, men’s and women’s clothing, feminine hygiene products, and bags of toiletries. The park took the items to The Servant Center, the Interactive Resource Center, Room at the Inn of the Triad, and the Give a Kid a Coat campaign.
Our unique contribution were 38 bags created by a local elementary school. These fourth grade students combined gloves, hats, dental items, water bottles, and snacks with kindhearted messages to the recipients. My favorite letter said “Dear friends, Hello! I hope you are having a nice holiday! All of us at Canterbury wanted to give you a gift this season. There is not only materials, there is love. We care that your holiday is as nice as ours, and that your winter stays warm! It astounds me how strong you must be, so enjoy this, and relax for a while. Whatever you might celebrate, I hope it’s filled with love. Love, a caring student.” Check out the other pictures, the kindness of these students was uplifting. I hope that the recipients think so as well.
Some tips for drive promotions – contact your local newspapers! The majority of people learned about the donations through these traditional media outlets. Social media wise – Instagram was the biggest hit, over thirty likes per post. However, these likes did not turn into donations. I would love advice for upping our social media game! How do we turn likes into action?