Sandy Springs will hold its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute on Jan. 15 with a program refocused on education about volunteerism and a new location at Heritage Sandy Springs.

The city’s Humanitarian Award, traditionally given out at the event, is no more, at least for now, according to city communications director Sharon Kraun. Instead, the event will now feature leaders, volunteers and clients from a local community-service nonprofit – this year, the Sandy Springs Mission, a nonprofit that aids at-risk, primarily Latino students in local schools with a partly Christian program.

The event is also moving from its traditional City Hall location.

Kraun, whose staff organizes the event, said at last year’s City Council retreat that it likely would be scaled back due to its demands on staff time – including six months of planning – and competition for speakers with many other MLK Day events in intown Atlanta, where the legendary Civil Rights leader was born. The city has been rethinking several of its events as it prepares the new City Springs civic center and recently launched new events, including a lantern parade, a children’s Halloween festival and a winter holiday display.

Kraun said this week that the volunteerism focus was chosen for the MLK Day tribute because community service was among King’s main themes, and because residents often asked how they could get involved in local volunteering. This year’s event will attempt to familiarize attendees with the Sandy Springs Mission’s work as one example.

“Dr. King believed that even the smallest amount of encouragement and support to help someone matters,” said Mayor Rusty Paul in a press release. “It is fitting that we use this day to acknowledge the many who give of themselves by volunteering, and at the same time, inform the community on opportunities where they, too, can get involved.”

As in the previous 11 years, the MLK Day event will be hosted by Oz Hill, the principal and CEO of International Security Solutions Inc., and Rev. Henry Bush, pastor of Sharon Community United Methodist Church, will deliver an address. There likely will be choral music as well, Kraun said.

The program will begin at 10 a.m. at Heritage Sandy Springs, 6110 Blue Stone Road. Attendees are asked to bring a children’s book to donate to the Mission. For more information, see

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.