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Keyword: holiday

charcoal drawing of Dr. KingOrrester Shaw, Education Liaison for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

I will never forget when I first learned of the assassination of Dr. King. I was in my sophomore year at Morgan State, and as I was walking to the campus library to put the final changes on a research paper. Suddenly, one of my classmates informed me that Dr. King had been killed, gunned down as he stood on a balcony in Memphis.

I could not believe it. Later, I heard other students sharing the very same horrific news, many of them weeping, almost if one of their own immediate family members had been killed. Our nation has not been the same since that tragedy took place on the 4th day of April in 1968. I am not sure we ever will be the same again.

In my entire life, other than the assassination of President John Kennedy, I cannot remember any other time when this nation was impacted by an event to that degree. As I recall, there were mass riots, lootings and much unrest in every major city in the United States. Neighborhood stores were closed and ransacked. The Chicago Tribune wrote, “During the riots after Martin Luther King Jr.'s killing, 350 people were arrested for looting and published accounts say nine to 11 people died.”

Over the following few days and weeks, more than 100 cities would experience significant civil disturbances. National Guard troops were dispatched to bring peace, and in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. —it took thousands of active Army and Marine units to restore a sense of calm.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. King has become a national icon in the history of American progressivism. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the source of hope, pride and dignity for people of color. He stood for freedom, equality and fairness for all people. His message moved people from all races to work together for a better society. The American civil rights movement that he spearheaded changed the culture of our nation and created an awareness that our country needed and still needs today.

Moreover, the most amazing and significant take-away of Dr. King’s legacy is that all of this was accomplished through non-violence. It is for this reason and so many other overwhelming reasons that we now celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. When I think about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs of worship, “If I Can Help Somebody.”

                                             If I Can Help Somebody

If I can help somebody
As I travel along
If I can help somebody
With a word or song
If I can help somebody
From doing wrong
My living shall not be in vain.

My living shall not be in vain
My living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody
While I'm singing this song
My living shall not be in vain.

In 1983, Congress passed legislation that was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan recognizing Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday. Illinois was the first state to adopt Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday, and the state of my own mother’s birth, South Carolina, was the very last state to commemorate this great man.


Happy HolidaysKitty McIlroy, Student Intern, Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management
Senior, Goucher College Environmental Studies Major

When it comes time for holiday shopping, often it becomes a rush to find last minute gifts for family members and friends. If you plan ahead a little, you can avoid the quick purchase of a generic holiday card, store-bought wrapping paper or a gift bag. If you’re like me, and feel guilty about this extra waste, then keeping a few holiday wrapping tips in mind will transform your holiday habits and keep your environmental conscience at ease.  These “green” ideas provide a low-to-zero waste way to wrap and give presents to your loved ones this holiday season. Enjoy!     

Waste Reduction and Recycling Tips for Holiday Wrapping:

Wrapping Reuse:

Reuse items such as packaging peanuts or take them to local mailing/shipping stores. Try to reuse all previous holiday wrapping items, even glass jars and tins. Get creative and use old maps, sheet music, comics, newspaper, calendars, magazines, shopping or plain paper bags and extra wallpaper to decorate your packages. Make your own wrapping paper by painting or drawing some original art with personal messages to make a one-of-a-kind gift. Even something like a nice cloth or bandana can be used as wrapping, and it can also be part of the present.

Back To Nature:

You can also purchase cards and wrapping materials made from 100% recycled paper. Also, don’t forget material such as banana fiber “paper” and designs printed with soy-based inks. These materials eventually can be composted. Just by stepping outside you can find natural alternatives to store-bought bows by using sprigs of berries, holly, pine cones or shells.  Additional decorations can come from organic materials such as leaves, ivy, lavender, rosemary or cinnamon sticks. You can even purchase wrapping paper made with wildflower seeds. These seeds can be planted after being unwrapped. Finally, when wrapping a present, natural twine or yarn can serve as an alternative to ribbons and petroleum based tape, and twine and yarn are reusable.

Crafty Card Ideas:

Reuse old cards to make gift tags or holiday postcards or take the old cards to organizations that will reuse them. Try making your own gift cards out of recycled paper or using zero-waste alternatives like “e-cards.”

I hope this spurs your creativity and prompts you to craft some wonderful, eco-friendly wrapping designs. Send a picture of your handiwork to recycle@baltimorecountymd.gov and it might get posted online! Good Luck and Happy Holidays.


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