Honoring a Loved One through Serving Others

Service was certainly present during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Learning on January 18. Members of the Sidwell Friends community could prepare kits of baby supplies for A Wider Circle; write cards to essential workers or to children staying at the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health; prepare hygiene kits for Bethesda Cares; and plenty of other options (many of which are ongoing). Milen ’29 decided to make sandwiches—a lot of sandwiches—for longtime Sidwell Friends charitable partner Martha’s Table.

Milen pledged to make 100 sandwiches in honor of his grandmother, who passed away in December. He joined with his cousins—some of whom are Sidwell Friends students, some of whom are not—to crank out 101 sandwiches to feed others. 

“We did an assembly line, so there was a person who did the peanut butter, and then the jelly,” he says. “And then someone put it in a bag, and then a person wrote ‘PBJ’ on the bag.”

In total, Sidwell Friends students, many of them led by 4th grade teachers Barbara Davison and Edith Zhang, prepared 600 sandwiches for Martha’s Table. The 4th graders who participated elected to dedicate all of their sandwiches—a total of 331— to the memory of Milen's grandmother.

Serving others, Milen said, not only captured the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but of his grandmother, with whom he used to sit on the couch while eating Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream bars and watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.

“She was always so kind,” he says. “She’d always make food for people and help them whenever they needed help. So I thought, Okay, this is a time that we can make a bunch of sandwiches in honor of my grandmother. And then doing it with my cousins—she was also their grandmother, and so we’re all going through that—it made me miss her less.”

Now, thanks to the work of the Sidwell Friends community, 600 people will have a meal. And what grandmother wouldn’t be pleased to know that over 100 of those meals were made in her honor? Milen knows his grandmother would be thrilled.

“She always wanted people to have food,” he says. “So I know she’d be proud of all the people who made sandwiches.”

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