COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Some in Central Ohio used the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as a “day on” Monday.

The federal holiday has become a national day of service, with groups and individuals paying tribute to the famous civil rights leader by helping others.

“This is what he wanted. This was part of his dream,” said Dawn Smith. “We want to live it, see it through.”

For the fourth consecutive year, Smith spent the day volunteering with LifeCare Alliance. This year, her sister and 16 year old son joined the tradition.

“I hope he continues this tradition,” Smith said of her son. “Not only during this time, but any time someone is in need, he will be there to help.”

Joelle Khouzam organized a group of volunteers from her law firm to drive for the organization’s Meals on Wheels program.

“You hate to think of somebody not able to get their meals simply because we’re all taking a holiday,” she said. “You do what you can in your own small way.”

Monday’s volunteers followed the protocol adapted for the LifeCare Alliance program during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“During the pandemic, we had to change our method of picking up our meals and delivering our meals and everything,” explained communications director Michelle Jones.

The organization set up its own drive-thru operation for volunteers to check in and pick up meals with limited contact. They deliver the food directly to clients around the city, many of whom are older, homebound adults or those with medical conditions or disabilities.

Jones said, “Many of our people are unable to stand for any length of time to prepare their meals and during the pandemic they’re not having anyone come into their home.”

She explained the demand for meals has skyrocketed by 65 percent during the pandemic, with many high risk clients suddenly confined to their homes. Monday, volunteers planned to deliver close to 3,000 meals.

Volunteers must limit their direct contact with clients when they drop off meals, but some hoped the service itself would be a gesture of goodwill.

“I just hope more people out there spread kindness, love and make this world and this country a better place,” Smith said.

LifeCare Alliance is always accepting volunteers and referrals for its services.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, click here or call 614-444-MEAL(6325).
To refer yourself or someone else for meals or other services, click here or call 614-278-3130.