ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — While most people had Monday off, some organizations in Alaska took the day on, using the MLK holiday as an opportunity to help those in need.
The Alaska Bar Association and the United Way of Anchorage offered their services in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Volunteers with the United Way of Anchorage went door to door in the neighborhood around Susitna Elementary School, passing out information about two of their services, 211 and free tax prep. The group hoped to distribute around 500 door hangers to homes in the area.
"There is free tax prep for people that make under $66,000, and 211 is a resource that we have where people can call in and get information about receiving help with food, shelter, health, and pretty much any social services," said Kelsey Preecs, Director of Community Engagement with the United Way of Anchorage.
Also in the spirit of giving, for the 10th year in a row, the Alaska Bar Association partnered with other organizations to offer free legal advice to community members.
Russ Winner is an attorney who founded the free clinic. He says the annual event is aimed at leveling the playing field between those with the resources to access legal services, and those without.
"When we say the pledge of allegiance, the last phrase is 'with liberty and justice for all,'" Winner said. "This is about justice for all. Lady justice wears a blindfold. Nobody is above the law, and nobody is beneath the law, but a lot of people can't afford a lawyer, so they don't really know what they're legal rights are, and we're trying to help people understand what their legal rights are."
About 65 lawyers were on hand at the Mountain View Boys and Girls club Monday, offering free advice on family law, housing and benefits, along with issues relating to the government shut down, and even earthquake related questions.
"A lot of people don't have insurance for earthquakes, but they have insurance for other stuff," Winner said. "So if they have damage to their house, or some sort of loss that's indirectly caused by the earthquake, it may be covered by insurance."
Mary Ruth Quezada attended Monday's event seeking answers about earthquake insurance. She said it was a blessing to be helped.
"We need more people like this, and we need more events like this, because there are a lot of people who are needing help right now, and hurting too, at the same time," Quezada said.
145 people were served at the free legal help clinic this year.