POMONA - Kiera Reed and her neighbor Rocio Castaneda were among a group of young people who put a fresh coat of paint on a wall in their apartment complex Monday morning in the 1300 block of east Kingsley Avenue.

Kiera and Rocio, both 11, wanted to make the walls that surround a small courtyard in the Casa Grande complex look better.

"Here it was all messed up," Kiera said, while using a paint brush to touch up some parts of the wall. "There was graffiti on the wall and everything was faded on the floor."

Kiera was referring to the hopscotch and four-square game markings on the courtyard floor.

The improved courtyard will be good for the children in the complex, Kiera said.

"They'll be something for the kids to do," she said. "It's going to be better than it was before."

Kiera was among those who marked Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day by carrying out community service projects.

About 70 people came together at the complex. About half were residents of the complex and the surrounding neighborhoods. The other half were part of the Inland Empire United Way's Hands on Inland Empire.

On the surface, what was taking place was a beautification effort but there was more to it than that, said Armando Lopez, a member of the Pomona's Community Development Department and a site director with the city's Weed and Seed community improvement efforts.

The bigger project was to get people to know each other and begin building relationships so they can work together on larger community efforts such as Neighborhood Watch, Lopez said.

Having the involvement of additional volunteers, such as college students and members of the California Conservation Corps, boosted the effort, he said.

Volunteers signed up to give their time on the birthday of the civil rights leader and help out on various projects, including the apartment complex cleanup, said Francine Gobert, an event specialist with the Inland Empire United Way.

Pomona resident Maria Negrete lives on nearby Karesh Avenue but she was busy sweeping up leaves Monday.

"I think this is important for the community," she said in Spanish. "I think together we can do much."

By working together residents can make improvements to their community and along the way "you can even make it look nice," she said.

Brisa Quintero is a resident of nearby Abbey Lane. Helping the apartment residents is good because it bring residents together and "it keeps everyone communicating," she said.

Elizabeth Oh of Ontario and her neighbor, Bianca Moreno, helped with different tasks Monday, from picking up trash and helping prepare soil for planting flower beds to helping paint lines for children's games.

Oh, a bio-chemistry student at Cal State San Bernardino, said she liked to see so many residents involved.

"All the members of the community seem to be very active here and that's encouraging," Oh said.

Although Oh signed up for volunteer projects in the past this was the first she carried out on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"You all of a sudden hear his speeches and it gets to you," she said. "It definitely encourages me to just give more."

California Conservation Corps member Breahna Dawson of Montclair said volunteering on King's birthday is a way of living out the civil rights leader's vision.

"Martin Luther King always wanted everyone to come together and get along," she said.