- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

For a group of middle-school students in Boston, the impending presidency of Barack Obama has left them with the belief they will play a part in making a better future.

But the students, who participate in an after-school program for low-income children called Citizens Schools, aren’t sure how to do it.

Mr. Obama’s call for people to perform community service Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day may be exactly what the those students need.

The 70 middle schoolers will be paired with 70 mentors who will help them shape their understanding of community service, according to Daniel Rosen of Citizens Schools.

At the end of the day, the students will write a letter to Mr. Obama describing their dreams for the country and how they plan to serve their community.

“We really felt like we had a great opportunity to try to instill in them a passion for lifelong service,” said Mr. Rosen, whose group provides after-school tutoring and mentoring from professionals in a variety of fields. “We as an organization like to see ourselves as a vehicle for service.”

In that way, the event in Boston meets Mr. Obama’s goal in twofold: service now and instilling a sense of service in future generations. About 12,000 community-service events from across the nation are listed on the Web site for “Renew America Together,” at USAService.org.

“President-elect Obama believes each of us, as Americans, has a responsibility to do what we can for our communities and fellow citizens,” said Josh Earnest, communications director for the Presidential Inauguration Committee. “We’ve launched USAService.org to connect volunteer organizations with Americans in their community and make it easier to serve on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and beyond.”

The events include community-service activities such as picking up trash in inner city neighborhoods in Kentucky, helping low-income people in New York improve their resumes, cleaning the Anacostia River in Washington and building a playground at a charter school in Philadelphia.

“It’s about seeing a need and taking action,” Rhonda Taylor, deputy director of corporate relations at the Corporation for National and Community Service, as quoted at USAService.org.

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