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St. Petersburg Honors MLK With Day Of Service

Hundreds of volunteers in St. Petersburg used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day on, rather than a day off.

More than 50 community service projects took place throughout the day as part of the city's MLK Day of Service.

St. Petersburg resident Apollo Lewis spent the day  painting houses in the low-income Midtown Neighborhood. He said volunteering in the community -- not just on the holiday, but throughout the year -- can honor King's dream.

"The nation recognizes Dr. King's efforts by recognizing the day, but it's gotta be a mission, it's gotta be a vision, it's gotta be a year long thing," he said.

Mike Sutton, head of Habitat for Humanity Pinellas, said that is exactly what his organization tries to do throughout the year. He said he hoped the dozens of volunteers who came out on MLK Day would come back for other projects.

"I think it's ever-important for organizations like Habitat and others to be out in the community and trying to lift it up a bit,"  Sutton said.

Along with the MLK Dream Big parade, St. Petersburg's celebration is billed as one of the largest in America.

More than $200,000 from the Florida Legislature was awarded to MLK Day of Service projects in St. Petersburg this year.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fl) and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman stopped by the Midtown neighborhood on Monday to help paint a house.

Nelson said volunteers were living proof the legacy King left behind.

"I think this event is all the more underscoring that St. Petersburg has its priorities in order," Nelson said.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.
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