Volunteers Julia Lopez, Maria Passanisi and Salma Bezzat sort food donations during a Heart of Biddeford-sponsored sock and pantry drive outside Biddeford Middle School on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tammy Wells Photo

Whether people were dropping off new socks and food donations that will be distributed to Biddeford agencies that help the hungry or volunteering at a First Parish Congregational Church Day of Service in Saco, those in the Saco valley marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day by giving back.

At Biddeford Middle School, a host of volunteers were on hand to receive bags of canned and boxed food, staying warm outside that windy afternoon by keeping beat to some radio music — like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”

The event was hosted by the Heart of Biddeford.

At First Parish Congregational Church, the annual Day of Service saw people stop by for new and gently used clothing and shoes, toiletries and a hot lunch to go.

Inside the church just before noon, organizer Kris Galasyn said business had been brisk earlier in the morning as people stopped by for a warm jacket or sweater, items like shampoo and deodorant, hair brushes and accessories and a lunch of hot chili or beef stew, sandwich wraps and dessert.

The First Parish Day of Service, which saw about a dozen volunteers lending their time during the day —and several more in the lead-up to the event,  has been taking place for more than a dozen years — modified this year because of coronavirus.

Dave Barron of Arundel, holding a buffalo plaid coat, who had lowered his mask for this socially-distant photo, was among a number of people who stopped by the Day of Service event at First Parish Congregational Church in Saco on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The annual event featured new and gently used clothing and shoes, toiletries and a hot lunch to go. Tammy Wells Photo

Galasyn said there were some unexpected donations that morning — a couple arrived at the church with an array of toiletries. The Waterboro couple had heard about the program and went shopping, she said. They wanted to help.

In Biddeford, the sock and pantry drive was organized to benefit those who seek assistance at Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Youth Full Maine, Bon Appetit Community Meals Program, and Biddeford Food Pantry.

Organizers said the event was a chance for people to step up and think of their neighbors who may need food or a pair of warm socks or mittens to keep out the cold.

Among those stopping by the sock and pantry drive with a donation was Sanford resident Victoria Lynn, who said she had read about the effort and decided to contribute.

At the Saco First Parish Congregational Church, Dave Barron of Arundel was checking out the coats.

“This is very thoughtful of them, and I am grateful,” said Barron.

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