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Phoenix-area residents honor Martin Luther King Jr. with service events, marches

A shot of the crowd at the march from Pilgrim's Rest Baptist Church to Margaret T. Hance Park. (Photo: Jim Cross)

PHOENIX — Hundreds of Phoenix-area residents celebrated and honored Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday by participating in service events and marches around the Valley.

Volunteers gathered at United Way Phoenix to fill hundreds of food bags with nonperishable items, including protein bars and soup. The bags can feed more than 500 children for an entire weekend.

Francisco Avalos, director of engagement at the organization, said the outreach effort is aimed at increasing academic success for children by simply putting food in their stomachs.

“[Academic success] is not just hitting the books — it’s making sure everything else is in place,” he said. “One of those things is nutrition and food and access to quality food.”

Avalos said children can get seven meals they need for the weekend in the bag and “come back on Monday ready to learn.”

Across Phoenix, Mayor Greg Stanton and Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego led a march from Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church to Margaret T. Hance Park in honor of the Civil Rights Movement leader.

Stanton said the march comes at a time of great concern and division along racial lines and that we can look to King’s words during this turbulent time.

“One thing Dr. King taught us is that we’re stronger together,” Stanton said. “We can only become our better selves — and a better country — if we come together.”

Theresa Curry, a Phoenix newcomer from New York, said Monday’s march was about “change.”

“It’s about hoping to keep the dream alive,” she said. “This reminds us how far we’ve come as African-Americans.”

KTAR News’ Kathy Cline and Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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