Hundreds help clean up MLK Boulevard in honor of Dr. King


Gabriella Belzer

High school students Tessie Guerrero and Marcos Alvarez work together to clean up MLK Jr Boulevard on Saturday morning. The community service event was sponsored by United Way for a Greater Austin and State Representative Dawnna Dukes. 

Jeremy Thomas

Hundreds of volunteers gathered at J.J. Seabrook Park on Saturday to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in this year’s cleanup of East MLK Boulevard.

More than 300 people helped rid MLK Boulevard of litter from Airport Boulevard to Springhill Road in the 14th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Clean Up, sponsored by United Way for Greater Austin. The number of volunteers exceeded the 250 recruits expected to be brought in by Hands On Central Texas, the volunteer program of United Way. 

Among the volunteers was Mariela Rubio, government and social work senior. Rubio said she believes the beautification project is a great way to honor Dr. King by giving back to the community and city.

“Not only do we spread a positive message on his behalf, but we are also able to influence our community to join in making a difference,” Rubio said. “It is always nice to see people donate their time and effort to serve their community.” 

Community involvement was one of the vital goals presented by the United Way for Greater Austin for this year’s service project.

“Our vision is for Greater Austin to be a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all,” said Debbie Bresette, the president of United Way for Greater Austin. “What is happening here today supports that vision. I think Dr. King would be proud of Austin and the direction we’re headed.”

Fourteen years ago, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, initiated this event to promote Dr. King’s message of service. 

“This event encourages the conceptual beliefs of Dr. King,” Dukes said. “Dr. King was a catalyst for change in the community, and this service is one of the greatest honors we can provide.” 

Dukes said the annual cleanup and MLK holiday call for all citizens to work together strengthens the community.

“I’m so grateful to see all of these empowered volunteers here today, dedicating their time and energy to honor Dr. King’s vision – a ‘Beloved Community.’”

Making a difference in the community is important to Austin resident Carley Leasure. Leasure and her mother joined the three-hour beautification effort.

“This event provides the opportunity to participate in a great cause and give back to the community,” Leasure said.

Printed on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 as: Hundreds help clean up to honor MLK's legacy