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Aurora teens honor King with day of community service

Sporting MartLuther King Jr. t-shirt West Aurorsenior Bibi Sanchez moves box food Marie WilkinsFood Pantry. Students from Oswego Aurorparticipated 'A

Sporting a Martin Luther King, Jr. t-shirt, West Aurora senior Bibi Sanchez moves a box of food at the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry. Students from Oswego and Aurora participated in "A Day of Service" at aurora area nursing homes, food pantries and the public library, Monday, January 21, 2013. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 23, 2013 6:18AM

A group of Aurora students decided to donate their free time and celebrate Martin Luther King Day in an appropriate manner Monday — by giving back to the community.

On their day off from school, the teens were slated to work at several different locations around town, among them the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, Aurora Public Library, Countryside Care Center, Elmwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Farnsworth Rehabilitation, Jennings Terrance, Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry and Provena McAuley Manor.

Cynthia Miller, who is on the city’s Martin Luther King planning committee, said it is important for students to donate their time.

“For the kids to be off school and come out and give their services is commendable for them,” she said.

This is the third year that the committee has worked to make sure there are volunteer opportunities for the students on MLK Day, so that they can maintain that sense of community.

At McAuley Manor, there were seven girls volunteering with their group moving residents down to the lunch room and back to their rooms at the lunch hour.

Some of the volunteers simply sat and talked with the residents. West Aurora High School junior Kaylee Hayton said it was important to come out and help over the holiday. She also belongs to West High’s National Honor Society, which requires a certain amount of volunteer work.

“We have to get a certain amount of hours for volunteering — and it’s good to just help people out,” she said.

Just down Highland Avenue at the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, groups of more than 20 students were busy sorting out the donations the pantry has received over the holiday food drives.

Volunteer Director Diane Renner was pleased to have all the help in sorting through the food. They’re anxiously waiting for more space as they finish an addition to the pantry that will double its size, Renner said.

Erin Jacobsen, a junior at West Aurora High School, also is in the National Honor Society. She worked with her classmates to sort through some of the food at the pantry on Monday afternoon.

“I came with some friends to come and help out,” she said.

Renner said that it was a special day for the shelter, named after one of Aurora’s greatest volunteers.

“She always loved kids so much,” Renner said of the late Marie Wilkinson. “This is just a continuing part of her legacy.”

The students who volunteer during the day were to receive service awards at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at East Aurora High School on Monday evening, Miller said.

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