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January 24, 2013
Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the beloved community, an America based in the spirit of goodwill, love and understanding.

His message inspired to service Maire Elementary School students who, during the past few months, have embraced King's beloved community and engaged in several school-led outreach projects.

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Maire Elementary School students Layla Demir and her brother, Robert Demir, prepare to drop their winter coat donations into the donation box. Photo by Renee Landuyt photo by Renee Landuyt.
The most recent activities were a food drive, coat drive and Meals for Mutts 'n Meows, a partnership between Sarah Neely Barba's second and third grade class and Grosse Pointe South High School's Interact Club aimed at collecting pet supplies for senior citizens.

November's food drive resulted in Maire students delivering 1,252 pounds of food to Gleaners Community Food Bank, enough to earn the school the distinction of "Fill the Van" champion on the company website, an honor bestowed upon groups who collect and donate more than 1,000 pounds of food.

"The kids are very proud of that," said Paige Domzalski, a Maire mom who helps coordinate the school's community activities.

Students followed the food drive with the coat drive and pet supplies collection, both of which concluded last Friday, Jan. 18. According to Domzalski, final collection numbers for the coat drive were 84 coats, 14 snow pants and various other winter items, including 23 hats, 25 gloves and mittens, six scarves and more. Half the coats and all the snow pants were delivered to Bunche Elementary-Middle School in Detroit and the rest to Coalition on Temporary Shelter, also in Detroit.

And for Meals for Mutts n' Meows, students at Maire and South collected dog and cat food, kitty litter, litter boxes, cat and dog toys, dog sweaters and coats, pet beds and other supplies.

"Lots going on at Maire with our community," Domzalski said.

In a 1956 speech, "Facing the Challenge of a New Age," King spoke of the beloved community and of goodwill, saying, "It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men."

Throughout the past few months, Maire has embraced King's message, doing its part to create that beloved community.

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Ed Rinke