INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Community service urged for King Day

WASHINGTON: In honor of Martin Luther King Day, a PR campaign has

been launched to persuade Americans not to take the January 21 holiday

off, but to perform community service.



NFL coaches Herm Edwards of the New York Jets and Tony Dungy of the

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with recently fired Minnesota Vikings' coach

Dennis Green, came together to do a PSA that has already been aired more

than 500 times with an estimated exposure of eight million

households.



The effort is being organized by sports marketing firm Octagon. Drew

Johnson, who has been working on the project at Octagon, said that a

media relations campaign with sports and community media is also

underway. No outside PR firms are involved, but Johnson said the PR

departments of the NFL teams have been providing support.



Each of the coaches already volunteers with a different community

organization.



Edwards volunteers at Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Green with the

Special Olympics, and Dungy at Family First.



The Corporation for National and Community Service has partnered with

the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change to

transform the holiday into a day of service to meet community needs.

AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers also participate in the

initiative.



This is not the first year that Americans have been urged to participate

in the community on the holiday. Last year, thousands of volunteers

delivered meals to the elderly, read to children, and built

playgrounds.



The action is endorsed by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, who said,

"The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all

racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing

individual acts of kindness through service to others."



Participants can volunteer at a community event of their own, or find

projects through the Corporation for National and Community Service's

website (www.nationalservice.org).



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