Volunteer spirit: For Day of Service, the first family joins thousands of others

  • Zakki Scott of Washington, D.C., left, and Charles Jordan of Laurel, Md., right, with Stage Hands Union Local 22, load up supplies to be sorted into service packages for members of the armed services abroad by volunteers during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Zakki Scott of Washington, D.C., left, and Charles Jordan of Laurel, Md., right, with Stage Hands Union Local 22, load up supplies to be sorted into service packages for members of the armed services abroad by volunteers during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteers wait in line to sign in before putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteers wait in line to sign in before putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Ann Koren of Centerville, Va., gets he photo taken as she and other volunteers wait in line to sign in before putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Ann Koren of Centerville, Va., gets he photo taken as she and other volunteers wait in line to sign in before putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), center, volunteers her time to help put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), center, volunteers her time to help put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Hundreds of volunteers line up to put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Hundreds of volunteers line up to put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Vice President Joseph Biden participates in putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Vice President Joseph Biden participates in putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteer Shannon Stinson of Fairfax, Va., writes a handwritten letter to a service member to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteer Shannon Stinson of Fairfax, Va., writes a handwritten letter to a service member to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • George Washington University Student Priscilla Nei, right, and dozens of other volunteers write handwritten letters to service members to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)George Washington University Student Priscilla Nei, right, and dozens of other volunteers write handwritten letters to service members to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • George Washington University student Rebecca Prather, right, and dozens of other volunteers write handwritten letters to service members to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)George Washington University student Rebecca Prather, right, and dozens of other volunteers write handwritten letters to service members to go along with service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill Biden, left, and their family take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill Biden, left, and their family take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill Biden, left, and their family take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill Biden, left, and their family take the stage to speak to volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteers Andre Livingston and his daughter Rayna, 10, center, of Ellicott City, Md., listen with other volunteers  as Vice President Joseph Biden takes the stage to speak to the volunteers putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteers Andre Livingston and his daughter Rayna, 10, center, of Ellicott City, Md., listen with other volunteers as Vice President Joseph Biden takes the stage to speak to the volunteers putting together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Vice President Joseph Biden shakes hands and take photos with volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Vice President Joseph Biden shakes hands and take photos with volunteers who put together service packages for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Josh Ingle of Langley Park, Md., with Stage Hands Union Local 22, left, loads up supplies to be sorted into service packages for members of the armed services abroad by volunteers during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Josh Ingle of Langley Park, Md., with Stage Hands Union Local 22, left, loads up supplies to be sorted into service packages for members of the armed services abroad by volunteers during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteer Joe Jones of Washington, D.C. puts together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteer Joe Jones of Washington, D.C. puts together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteer Ayana Burrowes], 13, of Greenbelt, Md., center, puts together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteer Ayana Burrowes], 13, of Greenbelt, Md., center, puts together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Sadi Dingfelder of Washington, D.C. jumps for joy after putting together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Sadi Dingfelder of Washington, D.C. jumps for joy after putting together a service package for members of the armed services abroad during the National Day of Service at the D.C. Armory, Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 19, 2013. Non-profit groups are running hundreds of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
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Each box also included a handwritten postcard, which visitors and volunteers were encouraged to write.

Shannon Stinson, 27, said she started her letter “Dear hero,” because as a former military spouse, she understood what those words can mean for someone overseas.

“I wanted to thank them for their sacrifice and let them know I am thinking about them,” she said. “It lets them know we care.”

As he waited for the next wave of volunteers at the Armory, Gary Renville, vice president for the HandsOn Network, said the service day was not intended to be a “done-in-a-day kind of thing.”

His group is part of the overarching Points of Light organization, which started after President George H.W. Bush’s comments in 1990 on volunteers as a “thousand points of light.”

The hope for the day was to show people that opportunities exist for service 365 days a year, Mr. Renville said.

“Whatever your passion, whether it’s youth or the economy, there’s something for everybody to do,” he added. “This is a start to the service year.”

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