Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King’s birthday, was designated as a day of service. In the D.C. area, there were dozens and dozens of opportunities to sign up to help. You could help paint a school, plant a tree, clean up the Anacostia river front. For one of the bigger operations, our mayor, Adrian Fenty, asked volunteers to sign up and come to RFK Stadium to help assemble care packages for the troops. The goal – 75,000 care packages and hand written letters from the volunteers.
At 1:30, I went to the stadium with my friends T & B, who flew in from Los Angeles for the inauguration. Once there we received a quick orientation and went inside the heated tents where we spent an hour walking along with bags ‘trick or treating’ as other volunteers dropped sunscreen, energy gel, pens, and pads into our bags. In less than an hour, we filled about 24 care packages, wrote three letters, and were finished. Simple, easy, well-organized. The final total for the event – 85,000 care packages filled by 12,000 volunteers.
And we still had time to look at the Obama goods being hawked outside the stadium by a gauntlet of vendors – Obama calendars, shirts, hats, buttons, posters, and air fresheners. As we walked by, one particularly enterprising vendor yelled, "They done put Barack Obama on an air freshener, y'all." We couldn't resist a pitch like that and bought three for $5.00.