Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

by Lauren Verini

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, also known as MLK Day of Service. Every third Monday in January we celebrate King’s work and teachings as one of our nations most powerful and inspiring civil rights leaders.

King believed in freedom and equality for all and he spread his message through grassroots efforts, compelling speeches and nonviolent protests, like the well known Montgomery Bus Boycott. His famous “I have a dream” speech that he gave during the March on Washington, which was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century, had a direct impact on the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Leading up to his assassination, King also focused his time and energy on issues related to poverty and international conflict.

During his thirteen years as a civil rights leader and activist, he encouraged people to get involved and make a difference through non-violent efforts. Although it’s been over 40 years since his death, King’s legacy lives on and his messages of peace and equality can still be applied to today’s issues like poverty, health care reform, the failing economy and environmental crisis.

On this federal holiday, which marks his birthday, all public schools, post offices and government buildings are closed. But this day is not meant for a day off, as many people see it, but rather a day on. Today is meant to give people the opportunity to get involved within their community and make a difference.

The official Martin Luther King Day of Service site is a great resource for people to find a project near them that they can participate in, and also gives tips on how to plan your own event. There are events taking place all over the country today in honor of MLK Day of Service, here are a few highlights to inspire you to get involved, today and every day:

In Philadelphia, a group of volunteers will be helping to paint the Depaul House, a transitional housing program for homeless men. The program is designed to help these men get and maintain a job, save money and move into a home of their own after one year.  The event will take place Monday, January 16 from 10:00 am – 2:00

The whole family can get involved to help restore the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco while also enjoying the outdoors. All ages are welcome and volunteering starts as early as 8:30 am on Monday, January 16.

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger is holding their annual MLK Serve-a-Thon Saturday, January 14 – Monday, January 16. In recognition of King’s devotion to poverty, volunteers will be donating time to support anti-hunger programs.

Students and faculty at Arizona State University will be participating in the Tiger Mountain Foundation’s Garden of Tomorrow program on Monday, January 16 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. This organization is dedicated to creating and maintaining community gardens in the metro-Phoenix area.

Our nation’s capital will also be focusing on community beautification during the MLK Day of Service at Dunbar High School. Volunteers will help revitalize the community through a series of planting and eco-friendly projects starting at 8:30 am.

What are your plans for MLK Day of Service? Share with us in the comment box below, and post photos on our Facebook wall!

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