Students gathered for the third annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, “We The People; Embrace. Empower. Engage,” on January 21, at Bergen Community College in Paramus. The 501c3 was founded by Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur in 2016 to combat divisive rhetoric and encourage unity. Last year, 200 students participated; this year, the day drew more than 400 students from more than 60 communities and from different geographic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Fifth-to eighth-graders from the Academies @ Gerrard Berman Day School were there. Primary sponsors included the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Inserra Supermarkets, Bergen Community College, Kenneth Cole, Spark Freight Services, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, and the BCB Bank of Rutherford.
Students worked at various community service projects, including creating dog toys for the Bergen County Animal Shelter and blankets for senior citizens, as well as assembling hygiene kits for residents at the Bergen County shelter, activity bags for children in hospitals, and bags for CASA and Center for Hope and Safety.
“I started this organization and day of service because I felt like our children needed to learn not just a sense of civic duty, but an understanding that we should build bridges, not walls,” Tracy Zur said. “It is the organization’s hope that we will have at least two more events this year, and that next year will be an even bigger homage to Dr. King’s legacy.”