Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." The MLK Day of Service calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community."
Join forces with your family, friends, or a local organization and try one of these 20 day of service ideas!
1. Host a Teddy Bear and Friends Drive
Collect stuffed animals then donate to a homeless shelter for new arrivals. Your local police or fire station might accept this type of donation as well. A teddy bear can bring comfort to children in times of distress.
2. Make Hygiene Kits for the Homeless
Homeless people struggle to obtain basic necessities to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Organize your group to collect hotel samples or purchase travel-sized items from a dollar store to complete the kits.
3. Safe Passage to School
School crossing guards are not always available at all schools. Work with community and school leaders to increase safe routes for kids to walk and ride a bike to school.
4. Green Thumbs Unite
Work with community leaders to adopt a monument. Plant a community garden around it and monitor your plants throughout the year.
5. Remember Service Men & Women
Send care packages to deployed troops, veterans, and wounded soldiers. Write a letter of gratitude for their service, and include snack and personal care items. Check out Operation Gratitude and Give 2 The Troopsorganizations to learn where to send your care packages.
6. Best Face Forward
Collect unused make-up, perfume, and other cosmetics for a center for abused women.
7. Fight Childhood Diseases
Work together with your local health department to set up an immunization day or clinic to immunize children against childhood diseases. Help promote the event, pitch in to set up, and assist with administrative work.
8. Bring A Smile to the Homeless
Fill a pair of new socks with granola bars and bottles of water to give to homeless men and women you pass on the street.
9. Pitch In For the Elderly
Organize your group to rake leaves, shovel snow, or do housework for elderly neighbors. If you don’t have an elderly neighbor, consider a senior citizens neighborhood community.
10. Adopt A Park
Decide on a park to adopt. Grab some trash bags and pick up trash to beautify the park. Getting outside to care for the environment is a great way spend a few hours.
11. Care for Furry Ones
Volunteer at an animal shelter to help clean up, play with the animals, groom animals, and walk the dogs. Your time spent here will make the shelter a nicer environment for the furry residents.
12. Donate Old Linens to an Animal Shelter
Linen closets are often overloaded with too many worn out items. Donate old bath towels, blankets, and sheets to your local animal shelter. These household items are used for bedding, clean up, and keeping the animals warm.
13. Read to Senior Citizens
Aging eyes can make it difficult to read fine print. Volunteer to read letters, newspapers, or magazines to residents in a local nursing home.
14. Book Collection
Collect used magazines, paperbacks, and novels to donate to prisons, jails, and shelters. These places are often overlooked when a group is hosting a book drive, but books are so needed at these community places.
15. Recycle Old Athletic Shoes
Sneakers can be transformed into sports surfaces like running tracks, baseball fields, and basketball courts. Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program has ground down more than 28 millions pairs of shoes turning them into more than 450,000 sports surfaces around the world. Donate collected sneakers at a Nike Store near you.
16. Collect Eyeglasses
Many nonprofit organizations collect old glasses and repurpose them by sending them to people in need. OneSight and Lions Clubs International are two organizations helping in this worthy cause. Research online which group has a location closer to you.
17. Stand Up Against Hunger
People struggle with hunger every day. Collect non-perishable food items from neighbors, family and friends and donate to your local food bank. Before collecting items, check out your local food bank’s website to see what items are accepted.
18. Toy Drive
Gather used baby and toddler toys from friends, family, and neighbors. Donate these items to a nearby church, synagogue, mosque, or temple for their youngest members.
19. Help A Child To Read
Become a literacy volunteer to tutor children at your local library or at an afterschool program. It’s worthy of your time to help a child learn one of the most essential life skills.
20. Host A Bake-Off
Hit the kitchen and bake up a pile of goodies. Deliver to local police and fire stations as a way of thanking them for their community service.
You can make a big difference by giving a day of volunteering in your community.
Tell us how you plan to serve!