WASHINGTON -- Thousands of people headed to the nation's capital Saturday to take part in the National Day of Service.
The first family began the tradition during their inauguration weekend four years ago as a way of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Volunteers from all 50 states set up booths in a tent on the National Mall and handed out flyers and other information on how to get involved in their local communities.
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams, who performed early in the day, spoke with CBN News about the importance and significance of the event.
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams is also the host of a popular syndicated morning radio show. Monday-Friday she and her co-hosts encourage their listeners as they start their day. She spoke to CBN News about leaving the past behind and pressing forward.
"It's how I grew up. My mom and dad believed in community service. They believe in giving back," Adams said. "They believed… you're supposed to bless people who don't have what you have and then, in turn, God blesses your faithfulness to give more."
"I'm a very blessed woman, and so for me to be here today is only a testament to the wonderful upbringing that I had from my parents who taught me that you're not anybody until you help somebody," she continued.
That same belief was expressed by Aaron Harris, program manager for the Prince George's County chapter of Concerned Black Men, an organization that focuses on mentoring young African-American males.
"My mentor was my grandmother and she instilled some of those values," Harris said. "I say to my young men, and it's from the Bible, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'"
Participants sprang into action during the event by writing letters to veterans and the men and women currently serving in the Armed Forces.
They also made cards hoping to cheer up children with terminal illnesses.
"Over 1,700 cards were created today by the people who came out and served," Jennifer Starling Burnside, president of Junior League of Northern Virginia, said. "They were using stickers and glitter glue and writing messages for kids with heartfelt messages."
In the middle of the busy tent with children running around and people talking and laughing, there was reverence and remembrance.
Veronica West, from Arroyo Grande, Calif., remembered Dr. King and her loved ones back in The Golden State.
"I'm here for my family members who couldn't make it," West said. "The blood of Jesus is all over this country."
West and her two friends also stopped to pray for President Obama. As they prayed, passersby stopped and joined in with them.
"We gather here in the name of Jesus... Father God, to uplift lift him," participant Andrea R. Chambliss prayed.
"And we'll never forget the words in Jeremiah 29:11. You say, 'I know the plans I have for you Mr. Obama and your family and all the families across America that it will not be of evil, that it will be for good, that it will be for You," Chambliss continued.
With tears streaming down her face, Chambliss closed the prayer saying, "and by your grace and by your mercy we stand. We want to praise your Holy name in Jesus' name, the name above all names. Amen."
Note: The author of this article is a member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia.