ASHTABULA — Two events will take place this month commemorating the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is celebrated by a federal holiday on the third Monday of January.

A Martin Luther King Jr. Living History, Oratorical Contest will be from 6-9 p.m. Jan. 18, at the Ashtabula Public Library, 4335 Park Ave., and the Kiwanis Club’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast and Service will be Jan. 20 at Peoples Missionary Baptist Church, 3857 West Ave.

“This year, we once again challenge all who live in the Ashtabula area to join in recommitting to finish Dr. King’s work and to serve God, country and our fellow man,” said the Rev. Steve Sargent, associate pastor of the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula. “Our purpose in organizing and hosting these events is to generate more enthusiasm for good deeds throughout Ashtabula.”

A Martin Luther King Jr. Living History, Oratorical Contest will feature an evening of reflection and celebration of King’s challenge.

It will include hors d’ oeuvres, drinks, live music and inspirational performances by local students from St. John School, Lakeside and Edgewood high schools and Grand River Academy. The first-place student will receive $500; second place, $300; and third place $150.

The cost to attend is $25 per person.

The MLK pancake breakfast and service are free and will be from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the church on Jan. 20.

The service will include inspirational words and readings from area and regional leaders, as well as choir performances.

Several local dignitaries and community leaders have been invited to attend the festivities.

The Kiwanis Club of Ashtabula, in partnership with the Ashtabula Public Library, is sponsoring these two community events in celebration of the Martin Luther King Day weekend.

Tickets for the Jan. 18 library event may be purchased by contacting John Shouvlin at 440-812-1028.

To RSVP for the Jan. 21 breakfast/service, call Steve Sargent at 440-998-6465 (

The breakfast is free, but donations will be accepted.

For general information, call Tim Volpone, MLK Committee chairman at 440-969-1141.

Proceeds from the events benefit Reading is Fundamental and the Ashtabula Kiwanis sponsored Key Clubs. The Ashtabula Kiwanis Club is a service organization with 100 percent of the evening’s proceeds returned to the community through gifts, grants and financial contributions.

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