NORTH ADAMS -- When 11-year-old Molly Wojnicki learned about the 20th annual Northern Berkshire Martin Luther King Day Celebration and Day of Service, it wasn't enough for the Clarksburg Elementary School fifth-grader to volunteer: She also had to bring along her mother and grandmother.
"My grandma told me about it, and I thought it would be a cool idea [to volunteer,]" she said, as she painted a wall at the Northern Berkshire Y on Monday. "Everywhere I went I heard people talking about it, and then I learned about some of the projects and decided to volunteer. Last night I asked my mom why she wasn't volunteering and got her to come too."
"It's important to volunteer today because it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day and he fought for the equalness [sic] of black people," she added. "He fought for fairness. So volunteering is just one little thing I can do."
Nearby, her mother, Jodie Pilot, and grandmother, Linda Reardon, were busy prepping walls for painting.
"I'm sure this will become a tradition for us," Pilot said.
Reardon, principal of Clarksburg Elementary School, added, "I brought my granddaughter, and she brought her mother. It worked out quite well."
The three generations were part of a team charged with sprucing up the main hallways at the YMCA, one of several service sites on Monday, where more than 300 volunteers donated their time. Projects included making mittens and putting together military gift boxes; sorting food at the Friendship Center Food Pantry; cleaning and organizing at New Hope Methodist Church; cleaning at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink; cleaning at the Louison House; sorting and pricing clothes at the "Suit Yourself" boutique at Goodwill; and winterizing homes in Adams and North Adams.
"So this project is about sustainability, and we hope that you sign up for the many other projects that go on throughout the year," said Alex Daugherty, chairman of the Martin Luther King Day Committee, as he welcomed the volunteers at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Church Street Center. "Let's take this one day and make it 365 days."
At the Goodwill Store in North Adams, MCLA students spent the morning organizing and pricing items in the "Suit Yourself" boutique, which provides gently used clothing to job seekers.
"We're here because our school really emphasizes that we should get out into the community and become part of it," said Brendan Peltier, a sophomore from Worcester.
Terry Plumb-Clark, a member of the Suit Yourself Advisory Board, which oversees the North Adams boutique, said she was delighted to have such willing helpers.
At the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, manager Darin Lane appreciated the extra help, as volunteers braved the icy rink to scrub hockey puck marks off of its boards.
"We're running with a short staff, so we're operating on a day-to-day basis," he said. "This is something we normally do when we're shut down and have the time to do it. We have the Baystate Games coming up in February, and this will just improve the way the rink looks."
Among those wiping down the boards was 14-year-old Brian Christian, a student at Drury High School, who was also earning hours as a Boy Scout.
"I chose to volunteer at the rink because I come here during the public skates," he said. "It's a way for me to give back to the community."
The annual celebration is funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email