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Thousands join in National Day of Service

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Thousands flooded the National Mall and the DC Armory this Saturday to kick-off the National Day of Service, the first event of the three-day inaugural celebrations.

Headlined by former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress Eva Longoria, the event invited people from across the nation to learn about ways they can engage in community service and participate in various service events. Around the country, thousands more put together projects as part of the all-day community service event.

"What are you doing for others?" Clinton asked a packed tent of people on the National Mall. "In my family, the only wrong answer is nothing. But there are as many right answers as there are people in this tent today, and people in our country."

At Burrville Elementary School in northeast Washington, President Obama and First Lady Michelle joined 500 volunteers to fix up the school, and at the DC Armory, Vice President Biden and his wife Jill put service packages together for soldiers.

The day-long event was filled with performers and speakers -- ranging from singer Ben Folds to the vice president's son Beau Biden, the Attorney General of Delaware.

While filling out cards for soldiers, Kris Golden, 61, of Falls Church, said she wanted to give back and educate her granddaughters Ayden and Kaitlyn, both 9, about community service.

Her granddaughters had traveled from Baton Rouge, La., specifically to see the inauguration, and Golden -- who is actively involved in service through her church ?-- thought the event was a perfect way to start the weekend.

"We have to take care of people who need taking care of," she said. "That is so important."

At the National Mall, nearly 100 organizations provided attendees information to learn about different aspects of engagement, ranging from economic development and health, to education and honoring veterans. Attendees were also encouraged to participate in various service opportunities at the mall, including donating books for needy children and writing cards for hospitalized children.

Former President Bill Clinton signed a bill 19 years ago that made Martin Luther King Jr. day coincide with the National Day of Service in honor of King's legacy.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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