The president- and vice president-elect both spent time giving back on Monday

By Virginia Chamlee
January 19, 2021 06:53 PM
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From left: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
| Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty; Justin Sullivan/Getty

Two days ahead of their inauguration as president and vice president of the United States, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteering to organizations that help those in need.

As part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee's call for Americans to honor the National Day of Service, Harris, 56, and husband Doug Emhoff volunteered at Martha's Table in Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia neighborhood on Monday.

According to a pool report from the event, Harris joked that her fellow volunteers, a group from a local high school, were "moving slowly" as she and Emhoff, also 56, packed food such as potatoes, oranges, and macaroni and cheese into plastic bags to be distributed later.

Afterward, Harris spoke briefly with the press in the parking lot, saying that the day was an important way to honor the work of Dr. King and remember what still needs to be done in regards to racial injustice.

"I think it's so important to remember that Dr. King was killed in large part, I believe, because he was on the verge of bringing together the civil rights movement around racial justice with the fight for economic justice," Harris said. "And when we look at where we are as a country today, when we look at recent events, we know that the fight Dr. King was engaged in is still a fight in America, which is to recognize the connection and to recognize our collective responsibility to address these injustices."

Kamala Harris (left), Doug Emhoff
| Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

Biden visited Philadelphia hunger relief organization Philabundance.

Wearing a mask, a Philabundance ball cap and his trademark aviator sunglasses, Biden worked on an assembly line of volunteers loading cans into food boxes, while incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden helped out nearby.

A Biden aide told the press pool over 150 food boxes were packed at the event.

Credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

The Presidential Inaugural Committee encouraged people around the country to volunteer virtually or in socially distanced opportunities ahead of Wednesday's swearing-in as part of the National Day of Service, compiling a list of potential community service tasks and a platform to sign up and pledge volunteering commitments for the year to come.

"When Dr. King accepted the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, he underscored our collective responsibility to strive towards the 'oughtness' that confronts us as it does today," the committee's CEO, Tony Allen, said in a press release. "President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are empathetic leaders who know the crisis millions of American families are facing. And like Dr. King, they know that we must have a shared commitment — in word and in deed — to bring the nation together in service to others."

The day culminated in a live-streamed celebration "celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to service," according to the inaugural committee.

Both Biden and Harris are set to be sworn into office at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, with inaugural ceremonies this week ranging from celebrity-studded virtual primetime events to a national memorial to honor the lost lives due to COVID-19.