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Obama Visits Washington Sites for MLK Day of Service

BY Admin  January 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM EST

Martin Luther King, III and Barack Obama; AP Photo

He then joined his family and the family of Vice President-elect Joe Biden in community renovation projects honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the president-elect’s stops was Sasha Bruce House, a counseling center for at-risk teenagers in Northeast Washington, D.C. First Lady-to-be Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters were at RFK Stadium with Jill Biden, wife of the vice president-elect, and thousands of volunteers assembling care packages for U.S. troops posted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama’s Renew America Together initiative is meant to revitalize neighborhoods and renew a spirit of community service into Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The federal holiday, first observed 23 years ago, has long been tied to a call for volunteerism, and the president-elect has said he wants to build on that mission as part of the many events leading to tomorrow’s inauguration.

“Dr. Martin Luther King’s was a life lived in loving service to others. As we honor that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect — it’s a day to act,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I ask the American people to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.”

The president-elect and his wife attended a service day luncheon with community service members.

The initiative’s Web site, usaservice.org, has information about thousands of volunteer opportunities, according to Linda Douglass, chief spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, who described it as a Craigslist for service.

About 8,500 events across the country are listed on the site, topping the 5,000 events recorded last year, according to a federal agency that promotes the service day. About 500,000 people participated in last year’s service activities.

Later Monday, Mr. Obama plans to attend three bipartisan dinners honoring public service figures. The first, held at the National Building Museum, will focus on former Secretary of State Colin Powell; the second, held at the Washington Hilton, will celebrate Vice President-elect Joe Biden; and the third, held at Union Station, will honor 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.

Also Monday night, Mrs. Obama will host a children’s concert at Washington’s Verizon Center.