CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -In the Chattanooga area, many are taking Dr. King's words as an inspiration to help their communities in a day of service.
Volunteers have worked at more than 50 sites, some with area schools, others are people simply hoping to pay it forward.
The day of service has become a tradition for many folks in our area on MLK Day, like for hundreds of students at Southern Adventist University and Baylor School. But for others, it was the first time painting, cleaning and rebuilding their neighborhoods in hopes of making life better for their neighbors.
Volunteers lined Glass Street in East Chattanooga Monday. From painting to cleaning abandoned buildings, it didn't matter if you were a local leader or a teen hoping to make a difference.
"Might stop the gang violence," 13-year-old volunteer, Eunique Carter says.
It was a common goal shared Monday.
Baylor students organized and hosted a cookout for kids at Hope for the Inner City. Around 60 kids expressed their dreams like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did almost 50 years ago.
"From all walks of life, Lookout Mountain, North Chattanooga, Signal Mountain, East Chattanooga, and it's just the time to come together to live out Dr. King's dream," Baylor student, Aliza Cohen says.
In Ooltewah, more than 50 Southern Adventist University students pitched in at the Samaritan Center. They stocked the food pantry, organized the warehouse and repaired toys for needy children.
"That's why Chattanooga and Ooltewah are so great, because everyone's willing to help and it's not a community if you're not willing to help," SAU student, Stephanie Tarcia says.
"It's a tremendous help because they're young, they've got strong backs, they don't mind lifting heavy items," Samaritan Center Director Tony Dahlberg says.
Hundreds of volunteers even flocked to the zoo, doing some dirty work to improve conditions for their furry neighbors.
"Cleaning out different exhibits and putting new mulch into it," SAU student, Sammy Previlus says.
They say they're inspired by the day's meaning and are taking action to live it out.
"This is the best part of our community, people that understand that this is a day that they ought to do something like this," Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy says.
Several local animal shelters, nursing homes, and other non-profit groups received help Monday.