Martin Luther King, Jr. Day inspires Hopewell teens to give back

Volunteers get their hands dirty making seed bombs for the Sourland Conservancy last year. (Photo by Gavin Fowler).

To many, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day offers a welcome vacation from school or work. But to three local teenagers, the day offers more than that — an opportunity to embody the ideals set forth by Dr. King and engage the Community.

In 2017, three Hopewell Valley Central High School students, Sarah Cleveland, Gavin Fowler, and Samuel Fowler, were looking for a special way to celebrate MLK Day in their community. With community service having been hardwired into them through years of scouting, they knew they wanted to find a fun way to connect community members of all ages with the many non-profit organizations in the area.

For two years, the students have reached out to a variety of organization to ask if they would like to participate in a community-wide event at Hopewell Presbyterian Church. Then, they began spreading the word to local schools, churches, scouts and through their Facebook page, Hopewell Gives Back.

Last year, the three were joined by more than 100 volunteers of all ages, double the turnout of the previous year, to spend three hours rotating between six activity stations: 

  • made 300 bags of chocolate chip cookies for Mercer Street Friends,
  • made 19 fleece blankets for The Rescue Mission of Trenton;
  • made more than 1,000 seed bombs for the Sourland Conservancy;
  • organized 830 bags sewn by women in Kenya and decorated more than 300 gift bags for Seeds to Sew;
  • created 24 cat blankets for SAVE;
  • created 195 period packs for I Support the Girls.

In addition to working at the stations, volunteers donated $180 and many winter coats for the Rescue Mission of Trenton.

This year, Hopewell Gives Back is hoping for another large turnout and they are excited about their expansion of the event by adding another station.

 “I am very excited about this new station for it is such a large expansion and it is really cool to see how we will be turning a very common item into something that will help so many people,” Sam Fowler said.

This year’s event is made possible, in part, by a generous donation from Cream King. 

The 2020 MLK Day of Service will be held on January 20 9am-12pm at the Hopewell Presbyterian Church 80 West Broad Street, Hopewell, NJ 08525. Volunteers of all ages are welcome. Advance registration is required at  A $5 suggested donation at the door to help cover Expenses.

Contributed by Hopewell Gives Back

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