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Inauguration weekend kicks off with volunteering, service projects

- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2013

Inauguration weekend in Washington kicked off Saturday with a day of volunteering, as President Obama and the first lady led a who's who of celebrities and political leaders in National Day of Service projects.

Mr. Obama, who added the day of service to the inauguration festivities four years ago in the hopes of starting a tradition that will be followed by future presidents, was expected to participate in a service project, along with the first lady, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

The White House did not release information on the president's service project in advance, but in 2009 he visited injured soldiers and lent a hand on a homeless shelter renovation.

In an information expo on volunteering set up on the National Mall, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress Eva Longoria spoke to attendees about the importance of giving back.

Ms. Clinton, who was named by the president as a chairman of the day-long event, which includes service projects in all 50 states, drew cheers from the crowd when she talked about the influence of her famous parents, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

She told listeners she was inspired by her grandmother Dorothy Rodham, who as a child taught English to migrant farm workers.

Referencing slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s "most persistent and urgent" question, she asked "What are you doing for others?

"In my family, the only wrong answer to that question is 'nothing,'" she said.

Saturday's events kick off three days of activity leading up to Monday's inauguration ceremonies and balls. On Sunday, the president and vice president will be officially sworn in for their second term in office.

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