LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hundreds of community volunteers joined the 4th annual ‘Greatest Give Back’ in Louisville at the Muhammad Ali Center. It’s a service day in partnership with the center and Metro United Way to knock out the need. 

What You Need To Know

  • Muhammad Ali passed away June 3, 2016 

  • Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali, attended this years ‘Greatest Give Back’ event 

  • Over 500 community volunteers packaged 2200 healthy snack kits and backpacks in two shifts 

  • Ali Fest is from June 2-11

‘Greatest Give Back’ is a day of service honoring boxing legend and Civil Rights activist Muhammad Ali’s humanitarianism. It’s also a part of this years ‘Ali Fest’. Ali led a life of supporting charities and helping those in need. Of those attending this year’s day of service was Lonnie Ali, the widow of Muhammad Ali.

“Louisville was his hometown, this was his foundation, and this is who gave him his start,” said Lonnie.

Lonnie took time to address 500 volunteers at Thursday’s Greatest Give Back before they got started in two shifts.

Lonnie Ali smiles during the 2023 ‘Greatest Give Back’ service day. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Volunteers assembled 2200 backpacks filled with supplies and 2200 healthy snack kits. One of the many community volunteers taking part was Hermina Roberts and her daughter. They came for the morning shift of the service project, where they assembled healthy snack kits.

“I’m not the best artist in the world, but I do my best! We just got here so I’m only on bag two, we’re all on bag two, it looks like,” said Roberts.

Each volunteer was tasked with drawing inspirational messages and artwork on the paper bags for the healthy snack kits. Roberts brought along her daughter to fulfill volunteer hours for Girl Scouts. She knows the impact of Muhammad Ali’s service still has a mark on thousands and lives on, even seven years after his passing.

“And people are still, you know, wanting to come down to the museum, wanting to do different things to help out the community. And wanting to keep that spirit of Ali alive,” said Roberts.

Erin Herbert serves as the Muhammad Ali Center’s senior director of education and curation. She says the legacy of Ali’s service to the community lives on.

“He was a man of action, he was a man of service,” Herbert said. “Giving is one of his core principles and he gave throughout his life and I think he would be so proud of us for bringing the Louisville community together the way that we do to give back.”

Each volunteer packed as many snack kits as they can to meet the goal.

“Everybody can use a little extra help these days. I always tell my kids that at any point in time it could be any of us that need a little extra helping hand,” said Roberts.

The snack kits and backpacks will go directly to Kentucky and southern Indiana nonprofits in seven counties.

Lonnie acknowledged how much it means for people to do this together for one goal, despite any differences they may have.

“We see division here in Louisville, but we see division not just here but everywhere. So I know Louisville can be that guiding light. I know we’re better than what some of the things we see on the news, and you know Muhammad was a Kentuckian. He was a Louisvillian and we’re all about love,” she said.  

Twice a year Metro United Way and the Muhammad Ali Center send out a needs survey to nonprofits in their service area. It helps them gauge how many snack kits & backpacks to make.