POLITICS: PennAve

Obama marks Martin Luther King Day with service project

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Michelle Obama,PennAve,Martin Luther King,Meghashyam Mali

President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters on Monday marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a community service project at the D.C. Central Kitchen.

The family, joined by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, helped prepare meals at the nonprofit community kitchen that will be distributed to local shelters. The president and his family were photographed on a serving line as they wore aprons and helped make burritos.

Obama told reporters that the first family was visiting the kitchen to help celebrate its 25th anniversary.

"I just want to thank everybody here for the great work they do," he added.

Obama joked that he was “very proud” of daughter Sasha’s burrito-making technique, but seemed unsure if the burritos were beef or lamb.

Joining the Obamas were veterans who continue to serve in a number of organizations, such as AmeriCorps, the Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, Teach for America and Team RWB, according to the White House.

The president has regularly taken part in service events on the day to honor the slain civil rights leader.

Last year, the holiday fell on Obama’s second Inauguration Day, and the president called on the public to take part in a weekend of volunteering, culminating with him being sworn in for his second term on bibles used by Dr. King and President Lincoln.

The D.C. Central Kitchen is the nation’s first community kitchen, according to the White House, and helps prepare 5,000 daily meals for the needy.

The White House said a number of Obama Cabinet officials would also help mark the King holiday, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew who will help pack clothing for homeless veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center later today.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will serve meals with Food and Friends, a Washington group that delivers food to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will volunteer at a local high school, joined by CityYear members.

Vice President Joe Biden also marked the holiday by helping members of the Catholic Volunteer Network serve lunch to the needy at SOME (So Others Might Eat), another non-profit in Washington.

Earlier in the day, Biden delivered a speech at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network annual breakfast, where he said the administration would fight to protect voting rights he said were under threat.

“Our opponents know the single most dangerous thing to give us is the right to vote,” Biden said, citing a recent Supreme Court decision striking down the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act and new measures across the country to require voter identification at the polls.

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