American South #1: Serving Others

Keoni Jones ‘26 and Kerelle Joseph ‘24, reflect on the meaning of service and the cultural impact Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had in the community. 

Today, my group and I went to the food kitchen called Hugs and Hope in the morning. Then we had lunch and met emergency and trauma nurses out on a lunch break at Municipal market. After some food we then visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical and Reservation, where Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr.’s bodies are laid to rest. And lastly, we visited the neighbor Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in and the last place he lived before his death.

Out of the entire day, the one thing that really impacted me is when we met Teri and Paul at Hugs and Hopes. They were in charge of serving over 500 people every day. They also deliver food to the elderly, mentally and physically disabled, and others who are simply not able to stay in their cars and wait for almost two hours to get their food. They even provide vegan options for people who don’t eat any products from/made from animals but still want to fill their bellies with food. One thing I also found interesting about Hugs and Hope policy is that they don’t question your background. One goes to their food kitchen because they’re hungry and that’s all that matters. Hugs and Hope also remembers everyone who asks for food and the volunteers who help them. The group was split into different groups, and I was helping put food into bags and putting them into big boxes. Together, my team and I filled four huge boxes of food for families the next day. Overall, Hugs and Hope lives up to their name, spreading love and hope to helping families along with hugs.

-Keoni Jones ‘26

Today kicked off with a bus ride to Snellville Georgia, where we assisted the Hugs and Hope Food Bank in preparing for their food distribution later this week. We were greeted with immense joy and appreciation and, in typical Deerfield fashion, took on the opportunity to serve the community willingly. We helped package groceries and bake cookies for the food drive and were indeed recipients of the anticipated hugs and hopes that the team offered.

Following our time at the food drive, we ate lunch at the Municipal Market where we experienced an amalgamation of different foods and cultures. At lunch we were joined by Ms. Eartha Sims, close friend of the King family. Ms. Sims toured us through Auburn Avenue, which was a neighborhood that played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. The neighborhood includes the King Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, the birthplace and tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so much more.

With an inundation of historical information and anecdotes of Dr. King’s life and legacy, we were amazed by the cultural impact he had on the city. Finally, we ended the night with dinner at a Deerfield alum’s restaurant, Max Lager’s, where we enjoyed amazing food and a bustling atmosphere. At dinner we discussed the events of the day and once more in typical Deerfield fashion, enjoyed a sit-down meal at the round table.

-Kerelle Joseph ‘24