Today, Jan. 20, 2020, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a federal holiday that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The holiday was signed into federal law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. MLK Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
But did you know…this is meant to be a day of service?
The holiday is meant to be “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
FOR THOSE STILL WORKING
While this is a federal/state holiday, it is not one mandated to be a day off work for all privately owned companies. Only 33% of non-state and federal employers give this time off. So if you have to be at work, we get it.
However, you can still make it a day of service. Consider taking a moment to reach out to your HR or your department head. Make the request that even if it’s not a day off, that it be a day of service starting next year where employees can go out in groups, with company t-shirts even, to do a day of service together. (Trust me, most companies love to be represented by community minded employees this way.)
Also, there is still time after work that you can do something small. Check out the list below.
FOR THOSE WITH THE DAY OFF
For those with the day off, what are you going to do to make this a “day on.” Some great ideas are listed below.
*This list is a shortened version of the one found at https://blog.fundly.com/community-service-ideas/ to be things doable in the short term for 1 day of service. Check out the bigger list for more fantastic ideas!
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit
- Participate in a national giving or remembrance day
- Clean up your local park or playground
- Plant trees, flowers, or other plants
- Repair broken household items or appliances for neighbors
- Write and send letters to soldiers and veterans
HELP KIDS / SCHOOLS
- Volunteer at a youth shelter
- Donate used books to a children’s library
- Donate your used electronics to a school
- Donate baby clothes and supplies
- Join a group like Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Donate stuffed animals to kids in hospitals
HELP SENIOR CITIZENS
- Take flowers to nursing home residents
- Cook a meal for a senior
- Decorate doors at a nursing home for the holidays
- Host agame night at a nursing home
- Teach an elderly person a card game or trick
- Teach an elderly neighbor computer skills
- Adopt a grandparent
- Write letters for a senior
- Deliver cookies or snacks to elderly neighbors
HELP ANIMALS / ENVIRONMENT
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Sponsor an animal in your city’s zoo
- Build birdhouses for your neighborhood
- Donate to a local animal shelter
- Collect pet food and supplies for a shelter
- Plant trees in a local park
- Clean up a stretch of highway/local park/common areas in your neighborhood
- Spruce up a park trail or hiking area
- Bike to work or school
HELP HOMELESS / HUNGRY
- Collect household items for a homeless family
- Give grocery coupons to a local food bank
- Create care packages with essential items
- Donate toys and school supplies to a homeless shelter
- Donate blankets to a homeless shelter
- Volunteer at and donate to your local food bank
- Create portable first aid kits for the homeless
- Donate gently used clothing and shoes
- Spend time at a soup kitchen
CRIME REDUCTION & SAFETY
- Become part of your neighborhood watch group
- Join an organization like DARE
- Paint over graffiti in your neighborhood
- Start a violence protection group in your community
SPECIAL NEEDS FOCUS
- Hold a crayon and marker drive
- Collect school supplies for special needs classrooms
- Help make sure your neighborhood is handicap accessible
- Donate to a care center in your community
NEIGHBORHOOD & COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT
- Campaign for more bike lanes and sidewalks
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood
- Rake leaves for neighbors
- Join your neighborhood watch group
- Help people clean their gutters