With the celebration of Martin Luther King Day earlier this week, both the change he effected — in regards to civil rights — and the model he set of an involved community leader were recalled.

Keeping in line with that message, the Harvey County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will participate in the third annual MLK service project this weekend — looking to effect change in the community with a donation drive that will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both Newton Dillons locations.

Harvey County RSVP will be collecting non-perishable food, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products for all ages and distributing those items to SafeHope, the Salvation Army, New Jerusalem Missions and New Hope Shelter. The project is one that fits with the RSVP mission (as a Senior Corp Program under the Corporation of National Community Service), according to RSVP Coordinator Mary Adams, while also being a boon to the local entities that look out for the less fortunate and underserved.

"We need to help support charities, because they are the ones that find a need that has to be filled in our community," Adams said. "Funding for these charities are getting cut so volunteers need to start helping with smaller tasks so that the charities can focus on the programs they run benefitting their clients with needed services."

Last year, RSVP's service project helped raise 1,110 pounds of products (a value of $1,650) for local charities and continues to draw support from its stable of volunteers and community members alike.

Past projects have shown that people from all different backgrounds are willing to get involved in the fundraising efforts, according to Adams.

"The people that donate these products feel better or enjoy helping out the community," Adams said. "I have spoken with a couple of donors, one of whom worked in Newton and lived in Wichita, but wanted to make sure her donation stayed local. One lady purchased three large boxes of diapers and a family that received part of this donation was very grateful; she was homeless."

One of the focal points of RSVP's mission centers on health futures, with Adams pointing out the donation of healthy food items and hygiene products in particular will help with those efforts.

Additionally, knowing how difficult the current economic climate is Adams said she is hopeful both donors and recipients alike will have an appreciation for the efforts of the MLK service project — and potentially be spurred to further action.

"Everyone is busy, taking care of their families and their parents now, while working a full-time job. It's hard to make ends meet for some who are less fortunate, let alone time to volunteer. One small misfortune causes a downward spiral; the goal is to make sure that people stay healthy so they can get back on their feet," Adams said. "In turn, when things get better, I am hoping some families want to volunteer, sharing how they benefited from the charities when they were less fortunate. Volunteering can be as little as one hour helping out a charity. The other part of volunteering is wanting to see our community and charities succeed. Volunteers are always needed and you can volunteer as much as you want."