In 1983, Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., fought—and won—for a federal holiday to honor his legacy as a civil rights activist. While some holidays are marked by barbeques and get-togethers, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated in a wide variety of ways. Victoria Domingo, for example, Director of BAYADA’s Garden City office, revisits his story—and the fight for civil rights—with her family. Whether through books, movies, or recordings of his speeches, they dedicate time to celebrating his incredible impact. Many, including Victoria, decide to give back to their community.
Coretta Scott King’s goal in instituting the holiday was not just to remember him, but to inspire action. MLK was an activist, an organizer, a volunteer; his work was dedicated to improving the community he lived in and the larger community of African Americans across the United States. This year—and every year after—when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., we should strive to emulate him, as well.
That’s why, in preparation for the 2021 MLK Day of Service, we’ve put together a wide range of ideas for community service and volunteer opportunities for you to consider. We hope you’ll make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a “day on, not a day off.”
Community service ideas
Not sure where to start? Need some day of service ideas? Not everyone has experience volunteering, and it may not seem feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it can be. And many opportunities are remote!
Before you find a volunteer organization to partner with, try to identify community service activities that might interest you or make use of your expertise, such as:
- Food bank/kitchen volunteer
- Meals on Wheels volunteer or delivery driver
- Disaster responder
- Call-a-Senior volunteer
- PPE delivery driver or coordinator
- Hotline volunteer
- Book drive volunteer
- Classroom volunteer
- Financial coach
- Volunteer/case manager for veterans as a part of the Hero Care Network
And that's just a few; there are so many types of volunteer positions to choose from!
MLK Day of Service events and organizations
While there are many organizations and events that are locally based, many offer virtual participation from anywhere. Take a look:
- Hands on Atlanta will be uniting all January long—virtually and in-person—for a series of events to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They’re working with The King Center and Points of Light, among others, to provide a diverse range of volunteer opportunities. Check out their event calendar, where you can also find seminars on making equitable change, a class on racial healing, and a film festival, among other options. Even if you’re not in the Atlanta area, or you’re not comfortable with in-person volunteering, they provide plenty of virtual volunteer opportunities. Volunteer from home—even host a civic dinner!
- For MLK Day, L.A. Works has set up a Virtual March on Washington in Minecraft and a drive-in event for those in the Los Angeles area, completing projects that benefit local students—like a MLK Day Mural and packing school supplies. They are also offering virtual workshops through Zoom on Criminal Justice and Race, Homelessness and Race, and Food Insecurity and Race.
- Repair the World serves in cities all around the country, and this year, they are asking others to #servethemoment for a weekend of service from January 15 to January 18. Some of their opportunities are phone banking for food benefits access, an MLK Day workshop for young professionals, and packaging hygiene care kits.
- The Volunteer Center of the Triad serves North Carolina and always has volunteer opportunities, like recurring food drives and baby needs drives. For those in the area, they are hosting a blood drive and an MLK clean-up in Greensboro on January 16. If you’re not local, their virtual event takes place on the January 18, and it will feature service projects, a nonprofit fair, children’s activities, performances, and more!
- AmeriCorps MLK Day of Service is a great resource if none of the above really suit your interests or are in your particular area. On their site, you can find a volunteer opportunity near you—and this is year-round, too. You can also register a volunteer project if you have one in mind and need volunteers to help see it to fruition.
Check back periodically throughout the year for updates to volunteer opportunities because there’s never a bad time to give back. Whether you’re affiliated with BAYADA or not, we’d love to see how you spent your MLK Day serving. Visit our Facebook to share or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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