Marcia Watson (left) and Simon Sanchez (right) collect trash outside of the Orange County Public Schools Academic Center for Excellence. The two volunteered for the MLK Day of Service Clean-Up event on Monday in downtown Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood. Photo by Genesis Vesco.

Marcia Watson clipped herself into her neon yellow vest, slid on her white and blue rubber gloves, and grabbed a black garbage bag. 

After being chosen as team leader, she took her group of nine students toward North Parramore Avenue, where her team was designated to pick up trash between West Amelia Street and West Livingston Street. 


“The exciting part is that it’s fulfilling,” said Watson, 30-year-old UCF public administration graduate student. “You’re doing something right for a few hours.”

Students and faculty alike braved the 40-degree temperatures in Orlando Monday morning to commemorate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in the MLK Day of Service Clean-Up. 

“I didn’t think this many people would be here,” Watson said. “It’s great that people throughout the community came out.”

Volunteers met at Orange County Public Schools Academic Center for Excellence — a community partnership school for students between kindergarten and eighth grade.

This is the third year the event has been put on, and Shannon Currie, OCPS ACE community partnership school director, said the event holds a special place in her heart.

“In the process of working with a group cleaning three years ago, we came across one of our fourth grade students living behind the laundromat [across the street from OCPS ACE] for several months,” Currie said, as she ensured the event ran smoothly. “This has become an annual event for us because of that.”

Simon Sanchez, junior marketing major, said he initially volunteered to get points for a class, but it was nice to give back to the community.

“I feel like I really helped the community,” Sanchez said. “Even if it was just one sidewalk.”

By the end of the event, the seven teams volunteering filled 52 garbage bags with trash from the surrounding area of Parramore.

“This is something that Martin Luther King stood for,” Currie said. “Equal justice and fair treatment. It’s a time for us to come together, regardless of ethnic background or religion or anything. We bleed the same blood.”

Currie led the event this year in collaboration with her team at ACE, Volunteer UCF, the City of Orlando and Habitat for Humanity. She said it is her responsibility to ensure she is working with her partners to remove barriers for learning. 

“UCF has been an amazing partner for [ACE],” Currie said. “They have completely wrapped their hands around this partnership. With everything I have experienced with UCF, I can see why people are proud to have an education through this institution.”