DENVER (CBS4) – For the last 34 years, Volunteers of America has been celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by opening its doors to those in need. On Monday, the annual “Dinner for Those Who Hunger” provided food to more than 800 people from around the metro area.

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It’s all thanks to hardworking volunteers. It takes the work of about 200 volunteers to make sure anyone who wants to be part of the celebration, gets a seat at the table.

The members of the Garcia family are some of many who volunteer at the dinner annually.  

CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews Angela Garcia and her daughter, Mia.(credit: CBS)

“It’s fun, we enjoy it. We love working with the community,” said Angela Garcia.

Angela has been volunteering at the dinner for the last 15 years with her family. With one daughter off at college, she decided it was time to introduce her youngest, Mia, to the tradition.

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“I was excited to come today because I felt like I had to do something to make this world like a better place!” said Mia.

At just 8 years old, Mia may be one of the youngest in the room, but as a volunteer, she was one of the hardest working.

“I’m working so hard because I want everybody to enjoy it,” she said.

For Mia, the job is important. It’s her goal to make sure on this day, everyone feels equal.

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“There’s a lot of people living on the street that need like a home and shelter and food, so this is a day where they get to get in the shelter and get food so they can feel like kind of… like at home.”

Mia weaved in and out of the tables, picking up dishes and re-setting empty places so the next group could sit down and eat.

“I had to go back and forth and back and forth!” she laughed.

When she wasn’t setting up tables, Mia was helping in other ways.

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“A lot of people just need a smile to brighten up their day.”

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With live music and dancing, there were a lot of smiles to go around. Like Mia, many of the volunteers were just happy to help their neighbors in need.

“I would consider myself lucky to be here because I just love seeing people, and I just love this job and helping people have something.” 

Jamie Leary