By Miranda Cooper and Rusheena Rush

For the past month or so, our CSX Transportation Civic Engagement team has been working hand-in-hand with the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School staff - relentlessly hammering out details and dreaming up imaginative ways to beautify the school - in honor of Make a Difference Day, 2014.  As service directors for the event, we’d like to speak for the entire team in saying that due to the collaboration of all in attendance, we were all successful!

The day kicked off at 7 a.m. pronto. “Big mama”, our affectionately named van, came rolling into the parking lot of Martin Luther King Elementary. Inside the school, all of the projects had already been neatly kitted, separated and were ready to go.  Our breakfast tables and registration tables were just in need of food, coffee and tablecloths. The phenomenal designs, including college logos on canvas, Martin Luther King Jr. and wife Coretta Scott King, Strive shields (a staple for the school's motto), a kick-art Anacostia Mural, as well as several other odds and ends had been traced onto walls, and were waiting patiently for paint. All that was needed was who we’d been thinking of and waiting for all along: Our Community.

In all, we had the privilege to serve alongside 159 external volunteers (hailing from local non-profit organizations, corporations, other Americorps programs, fraternities and the King community), as well as 59 City Year AmeriCorps members. With the help of all of these people, we built and hung 21 bulletin boards, built 4 single garden box benches, planted 12 sets of flowers and painted 8 wall murals and 25 murals on canvas. It was truly incredible to see the results of so many hands working together to complete projects that would take our small team months to complete. The impact of the transformation of the school was recognizable at the completion of the day, but was only amplified by the appreciations and smiles that were directed toward our King team on Monday morning by both staff and students. We could not have asked for a better day to make a difference! 

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