‘Keep your head up:’ Students take part in Orlando Martin Luther King Day of service

More than 50 volunteers pick up trash at Fern Lake and Eagle Nest Park

ORLANDO, Fla. – While Monday was a day off for students and some parents, it was a day on for dozens who volunteered at Lake Fran to pick up trash and give back to the community.

“Usually there’s a Pappy Kennedy Prayer Breakfast and that was virtual today. But community service needs to be live and in person,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

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More than 50 volunteers joined Orlando Dyer, pickers in hand collecting trash at two locations: Fern Lake and Eagle Nest Park.

Edgewater High School senior Abigal Barner braved the cold to participate in the day of service event. She’s one of dozens of high school students across Orange County, selected to serve as MLK Humanitarians, exemplifying the ideals embraced by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through character and leadership.

“I love being out in the community and making a difference when I can. It was this or sleeping in,” said Berner.

Working alongside Berner was Apopka High senior Johnny Simmons, also a MLK Humanitarian.

“My message is to always stay positive, keep your head up and always remember that you have a goal in life. Try your best to reach your goals because that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did,” said Simmons.

Some make the day of service a family tradition, like Jessica Stead and her kids Garret and Paige. Stead teaches her kids about MLK’s legacy of volunteerism.

“Showing them that if you want to make a difference in your city, you need to be a part of the solution,” said Stead. “There’s always people that say one person can’t make a difference, but one person absolutely can make a difference. Look at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He made a huge difference, so I think we can too.”

Bags of litter were taken off the streets, with a shared message of equality and unity.

“Think beyond yourself and see where you can help others,” said Barner.

The student humanitarians along with volunteers are encouraging community members to give back all throughout the year and not just on MLK Day.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.