RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and his vision of a “beloved community”, many volunteers across the Rio Grande Valley participated in MLK Day of Service.

Over 100 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley students, faculty and staff participated with the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen in McAllen to provide families with food and clothing.

Participants prepared and served food as well as helped with the family store by hanging clothes, restocking shelves and cleaning the area.

“I think it’s important because you are giving out your service your work for somebody else. you’re providing food for hungry people and it’s appreciate and understand the struggles people go through,” Mechanical Engineering UTRGV student Diego Setien told ValleyCentral.

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry

Meanwhile in Harlingen, UTRGV students met on Monday morning at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry to help families in need.

Students helped organize, fill bags of food and distribute them to several families in need throughout the day. For some participants, this was the first time they volunteered at the pantry.

“If we look at our phones, we see that our screen time is 5 hours, and that’s 5 hours we could have committed to our community,” volunteer for Day of Service Neida Gutierrez said. ” At the end of the day, our community is the one that’s going to support us with our goals, and I’m very thankful for my community.” 

Anyone in need of a food donation should call Loaves and Fish Food Pantry at (956) 423-1014.

Cemetery Cleanup

The City of Edinburg Juneteenth Committee alongside the UTRGV Center for Student Involvement hosted a clean up at the Restlawn Cemetery.

About 60 volunteers helped restore the cemetery’s appearance by cutting down branches, raking leaves, digging out plants, adding flowers to the graves and painting the fence.

City of Edinburg Juneteenth committee member Sharon Smith told ValleyCentral during the planning of the event they thought about the cemetery and how its a historic place in need of repairs.

“We had 60 people come out to volunteer to help clean up the historical cemetery Restlawn. It was it was a wonderful thing,” Smith said. “We had community leaders, we had the mayor and the city council come out, we had business people come out and then our students came out and then you know, just regular citizens came to help us clean up the cemetery”

The Restlawn Cemetary was established in 1928 and is a dedicated burial site for African Americans.

The event included a program establishing the importance of the cemetery to the City of Edinburg and the community as well as a speech from the Edinburg Mayor and Council regarding the importance of “Serving the Community”.