Cinnaminson, NJ – The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday marked the 25th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. One young Greek American, 8 yr. old boy Constantine “Dean” Kotsakis, saw his efforts come to fruition when he rallied fellow students from his school to participate in helping those in need in the community.
A month ago, Dean was asked to be the student spokesperson for New Albany Elementary School’s clothing drive benefiting Mary’s Closet, a nonprofit organization in Palmyra NJ. The organization supplies clothing, coats, shoes, linens, and toys to families in need each month. Dean has been working as a volunteer alongside his adopted grandmother, Donna Undercuffler, Founder of Mary’s Closet, since he was four years old. Upon learning that one of New Albany’s students was involved in the organization, Ms. Nancy McGann, a teacher at the school, asked Dean’s parents if he would be the spokesperson for the MLK service project to educate other children about Mary’s Closet and it’s a unique mission.
Dean took on the assignment with enthusiasm, and with the help of his parents, created a video where he gave a tour of Mary’s Closet and explained what the organization does and how everyone could help with the coming drive. The video was circulated throughout the school community.
With his urging and all the hard work of New Albany students and families in collecting, the drive was a huge success, culminating in many large boxes and bags being delivered and sorted to Mary’s Closet today on holiday. For his dedication, motivation, and hard work, the grateful group of volunteers who run Mary’s Closet presented Dean with a Special Achievement Award for the MLK Service Day project.
Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
Cinnaminson Township School district designated the month of January as a “Month of Service,” highlighting a tradition of service and community. Elementary, Middle and High schoolers worked together at Cinnaminson Middle School on January 20th from 9 am to noon, participating in a variety of activities in conjunction with the district-wide goal to spread kindness to the surrounding community.
Over 400 people attended, including many Cinnaminson families that were invited to volunteer. ”All Pirates On Deck” was the motto for the day, which is sure to become another tradition in the Cinnaminson community. Bravo to Dean and all the students of the Cinnaminson Schools for exemplifying one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous quotes: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”