Volunteers in all 50 states mark day with volunteer activities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans from coast to coast will volunteer in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the 25th anniversary of the MLK National Day of Service. The annual event is an opportunity for Americans to recommit themselves as citizens by responding to words once spoken by Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
In recognition of Dr. King’s legacy of service and leadership to gain equality for all Americans, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service in 1994 and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with leading this effort. During the last quarter-century, the MLK Day of Service has grown in both size and impact as it becomes a tradition for community institutions.
The MLK Day of Service can kick off volunteering throughout the year and CNCS provides easy ways for Americans to get involved. At Serve.gov, you can find a volunteer project near you by searching with your zip code or read ideas for creating your own volunteer project. Volunteer opportunities exist in Graham and Greenlee Counties. The site also includes tips on how to make a pledge to serve with an organization you’re passionate about.
In all 50 states, volunteers will participate in projects that include delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, and building homes. They will also recruit volunteers, provide services for veterans and military families, and help citizens improve their financial literacy skills. Participants in the agency’s AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs are leading and joining in projects across the country. Sample projects are highlighted below.
- Montgomery, Al. – In Alabama and cities across the country, volunteers will wash feet of vulnerable children and adults, demonstrate proper footcare, and size feet for properly fitting shoes at shoe distributions organized by Samaritan’s Feet.
- Phoenix, Ariz. – Volunteers will paint and repair the home of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran, led by HandsOn Greater Phoenix.
- Atlanta, Ga. – Hundreds of volunteers will plant more than 300 trees in Brook Run Park as part of a project designed to protect and improve Atlanta’s urban forest.
- Sterling, Ill. – Through the Brown County RSVP program, Senior Corps volunteers will distribute disaster kits and provide emergency preparedness education resources.
- Lutcher, La. – Volunteers will support the St. James Parish Library to install and fill 10 Little Free Libraries around the parish to make reading more accessible to children and adults.
- New Orleans – AmeriCorps members from Rebuilding Together’s Capacity Corps will unite in New Orleans for a week-long service effort, repairing the homes of four longtime residents.
- Flint, Mich. – Senior Corps volunteers and AmeriCorps members will work together to assemble 120,000 meals for those in need of nutrition support.
- Butte, Mont. – Working together, local AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members organized a “Read for Peace” event for the Butte School District. In 53 classrooms, students in Kindergarten through fifth-grade will use books about Dr. King to lead classroom activities with the students.
- North Conway, N.H. – Senior Corps volunteers with Carroll County RSVP will participate in a nonprofit volunteer fair to register new volunteer drivers for the Portal Medical Transportation Program.
- Poughkeepsie, N.Y. – Volunteers will test and install smoke detectors and mount outdoor automatic lights to create a safer community through a project organized by the United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region.
- Philadelphia – The greater Philadelphia region is expecting a record 150,000 volunteers in 1,800 community service projects on MLK Day, with their signature project at Girard College. This year, Philadelphia will surpass 2 million volunteers having served in the last 25 years.
- Columbia, S.C. – At the University of South Carolina, 400 volunteers will join forces for a PB&J sandwich-making competition, an annual event organized by The Arc South Carolina. The thousands of sandwiches created are vital, as most food banks and soup kitchens are closed on King Day.
- Nacogdoches, Texas – Students and volunteers with Stephen F. Austin State University will spend the day tending to St. Paul Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery.
- Milwaukee, Wisc. – In Milwaukee, as in cities across the country, City Year AmeriCorps members will lead community volunteers in service projects at local middle and high schools such as painting murals, performing light construction, and other beautification projects.
- Seattle – Volunteers in Seattle will help restore more than 20 local trails, forests, and parks through an effort organized by Green Seattle Partnership, a coalition of local nonprofits, organizations, and AmeriCorps programs.
- Washington, D.C. – For the 25th year, The George Washington University will organize service activities for more than 950 volunteers at locations across the city that will engage students, alumni, AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni, and visiting students.
CNCS provides grants to 13 national organizations that play a leadership role in the MLK Day of Service. These include national organizations The Arc of the United States, NewStories, Samaritan’s Feet, and Youth Service America as well as regional organizations: Hands on Atlanta; James Parish Library in Lutcher, La.; Montgomery County Volunteer Center in Germantown, Md.; Literacy New Jersey in Edison, N.J.; Center for Food Action in Englewood, N.J.; New York Cares; United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region in Poughkeepsie, N.Y; Marietta College in Marrietta, Ohio; and Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.