Austinites clean waterways, educate on MLK Day of Service

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – While many spent their day off lounging around in their pajamas watching Netflix, hundreds of Austinites left their houses this morning to donate their day off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Before I got involved with this, I used to be ‘Oooh a three-day weekend’, but now it’s like I get to come and make a change and do something productive with my day,” says Sandy Romero, an intern with the Austin Youth River Watch. The non-profit organization offers afterschool programs in environmental science to Austin youth.

Romero joined over a hundred volunteers along Buttermilk Creek in East Austin. They pulled dozens of trash bags full of garbage, mattresses, and even a couple of shopping carts out of the creek. Austin Youth River Watch teamed up with the St. John Neighborhood Association to clean up the area. 

Romero was a member of the group before graduating high school. Now, the University of Texas student works to help educate youth. “We’re doing something that matters, something that’s going to make a difference in the long run,” Romero says.

Akeem McLennon, a member of the St. John’s Neighborhood Association, says events like today have a big impact on the neighborhood. “The trash here used to really pile up,” McLennon says, but thanks to the project, part of the creek that doesn’t usually get cleaned is getting much needed attention. “Normally when we just do small community events, we don’t get the coverage to clean up more of the creek.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day. The day is meant to honor the legacy of Dr. King by getting people out and serving their community. It’s meant to be “a day on, not a day off.”

The day is one of two service days that are nationally recognized. The other National Day of Service is September 11th.

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