Oak Knoll Students Dedicate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Serve Those in Need

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is typically a day off school for many children, students at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ, dedicated their day away from school to help those in need in their community.

Oak Knoll students spent time on Monday, January 17, 2022, making more than 200 brown bag lunches for Bridges Outreach. Bridges distributes lunches to housing and food-insecure people in New York City and Newark, NJ.

Oak Knoll students who are part of the school’s Junior Auxiliary Twig at Overlook Hospital in Summit, also participated in “Operation Gratitude,” where they wrote letters of appreciation and encouragement to health care workers currently working long hours to care for COVID patients at Overlook.

The school held an assembly last month ahead of the national holiday where students, faculty, and staff presented about important civil rights activists and about King’s life, mission, and legacy.

Congress first designated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a federal holiday in 1994, in recognition of Dr. King’s legacy of service and leadership to gain equality for all Americans while charging AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, with leading this effort.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country are called upon to step up to help make their communities more equitable and take action to create the Beloved Community of Dr. King’s dream. While Dr. King believed the Beloved Community was possible, he acknowledged and fought hard for systemic change.

Jennifer G. Landis, Head of Oak Knoll School, echoed that King’s vision of non-violence is not just about avoiding bad behavior, it is also a call to action.

“This brings me back to the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ This is an active call. The first word is do,” she said. “Some things that seem too complex to solve can also have simple roots. Dr. King had a vision of a Beloved Community. At the end of the day, we create the world we live in. We have the agency to create. We have to choose wisely and have to ‘do.’”

Melissa Miller, Oak Knoll’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, called upon students to do their part by contributing small, simple acts of kindness to a digital wall of kindness that she created. Miller announced plans to turn the digital wall into a bulletin board in the school’s hall. Students will be encouraged to take a Post-it note and fulfill their act of kindness in the weeks ahead.

In closing, Landis challenged students to honor Dr. King by thinking globally and acting locally.

“Globally, let yourself be educated about King’s legacy and the ongoing need for justice in our world,” she said. “Locally, think about what you can do right here to bring love, peace, and justice to Oak Knoll. Lastly, think about what your ‘lift’ will be. Everyone’s lift looks different. What will your lift be today? Do the small lift when that’s what you can do and do the big lift when you can. I hope you find a way to do your part to bring us all closer to Dr. King’s vision.”