Elsa DeGraw, 12, attempts to control a mulch-filled wheelbarrow during a volunteer service day in recognition of MLK Day at Jennings Park on Monday in Marysville. DeGraw and other volunteers from the YMCA My Achiever Program worked alongside adult mentors to cover trails at the park. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

Elsa DeGraw, 12, attempts to control a mulch-filled wheelbarrow during a volunteer service day in recognition of MLK Day at Jennings Park on Monday in Marysville. DeGraw and other volunteers from the YMCA My Achiever Program worked alongside adult mentors to cover trails at the park. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

Volunteers honor Martin Luther King Jr. with day of service

MARYSVILLE — Jim Pauley said he could sense the students’ enthusiasm from the moment they arrived at Jennings Park.

“They were gung ho when the bus pulled up,” he said Monday.

Some 25 middle and high school students spilled out of the bus, the beginning of their day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

They gathered in a circle to read quotes from King’s life before heading out to their tasks — shoveling mulch made from ground up Christmas trees into wheelbarrows so it could be raked into place along the park’s paths.

This was the fifth year Pauley, 56, an Everett real estate broker, has volunteered as an adult mentor to work with students on the day of service projects. “They all have that underlying passion for connecting and creating a better world,” he said.

Pauley chatted with Rosa Palma, 17, a senior at Marysville Pilchuck High School, as she shoveled some of the mulch that would be laid on a path near the park’s garden.

She told Pauley she had previously volunteered at the Marysville Community Food Bank, but hadn’t participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. day of service event.

Someone told her about the opportunity and “I decided it was a good volunteer experience,” she said.

On another path overlooking a pond, U.S. Rep Rick Larsen, D-Everett, joined students in helping shovel mulch into wheelbarrows so that it could be taken farther down the path.

Working nearby was Edwin Duenas, 11, a Totem Middle School student, who said he volunteered because he wanted to “help the park to get better so more animals will live in it.”

Diana Orbeladze, 19, a Seattle University student who attended Marysville Getchell High School, said she’s been participating in King day volunteer projects since she was 13. “I come out every year,” she said. “It’s a chance to do something for the community.”

This is the eighth year that Retired and Senior Volunteer Program has provided adult mentors for community projects. This year, there were 15 volunteer opportunities countywide, coordinated through United Way of Snohomish County.

They included painting and hanging mirrors at St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift shop in Lynnwood, assisting customers at the Marysville Community Food Bank and a clean up, fix up and painting project at the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center.

This marked the third time Maureen DePuy, 71, of Marysville, volunteered. This year she was helping out at the Quil Ceda Thrift Store in Arlington, organizing and cleaning.

“I like working with high school kids,” she said. “I admire them to go out and volunteer.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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