MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said years ago. Across the Twin Cities, people showed what a few hours and a few hundred hands can do.

What started as a quiet day quickly escalated. After scrubbing up, they got down to business at Second Harvest Heartland food shelf supplier.

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“This will be our single largest day in terms of volunteers in this facility, could be over 500 volunteers helping us today,” said Greg Hilding, interim CEO.

At Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park, volunteers of all ages packed thousands of pounds of fresh potatoes and onions not for themselves but for others.

Tootie Martin volunteered with his 7-year-old son, Zephaniah.

“Today is MLK day, and in honor of his life and legacy I wanted my son to understand the importance of serving and that was MLK’s biggest dream is that we serve,” Martin said.

And that message was received. His son, Zephaniah, told WCCO the reason why he was volunteering: “Because I want to be nice to other people.”

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Malani Wright is another parent who traded a day of rest for a day of work.

“We try to do a family volunteer activity on holidays whenever we can to try and teach the little one the reason for giving back,” Wright said.

And over at Arc’s Value Village in Richfield, they were unpacking things to raise money for adults with intellectual disabilities.

“By them giving of their free time, it’s helping us control our labor costs for the rest of the week,” said Teresa Munoz, store manager.

Kumar Balasubrahmanyan was one of the volunteers.

“You can understand how a lot of people doing little things together can create a much larger impact and that’s really, really meaningful for us,” Balasubrahmanyan said.

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Hundreds of pounds of clothes and 35,000 pounds of food later, clearly this day would be meaningful to Dr. King.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield