Millions of Americans will come together on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Jan. 19, 2015, in a day of national service and dialogue to honor the memory of Dr. King. Dr. King had a dream that one day all people would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as called for in the Declaration of Independence. Dr. King called for social justice and opportunity. He asked that we bridge differences and come together in unity.
We have a unique opportunity to unite in volunteer service and issue a call to action to do what we, as Americans, do best – lend a hand, help our neighbors – and build better communities. Since Dr. King was assassinated, tremendous social progress has been made, but much remains unfinished. Americans believe that people have the power to make positive change – in cities struggling with poverty and high unemployment rates – in families where people are going hungry – and in school districts where more than half of our children aren’t graduating from high school.
With many communities struggling to access financial and human services, volunteer service can be a powerful force. Neighbors helping neighbors, young helping old, employees offering skills and companies investing in communities where they do business. We dream of a day when everyone is actively involved in making a better America. This year, Points of Light, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and sponsored by GE Volunteer Foundation, will create new and meaningful ways to harness the passion of our nation’s citizen in honoring the memory and promoting the vision of Dr. King.
MLK Day is a great opportunity to get hands-on in your community. You might have a passion for service, or feel inspired after attending America’s Sunday Supper to kick-off 2015 by volunteering. Dr. King’s life and legacy was about his commitment to service and social justice.
If you shared a film during America’s Sunday Supper or would like to connect your service project specifically to Dr. King, below are a few ideas.
Poverty: Organize a canned food drive for your local shelter. Expand the drive to include donating blankets, gloves, etc. to keep the homeless in your community warm during the winter months.
Education: Organize a school supply drive.
Community: Learn about the history of the community where you live. Identify cultural and religious groups in your community that might be neglected. Discuss how you can learn about their culture and help support them in preserving it.
Youth: Organize a toy drive to provide less fortunate children in the community with toys and games.
Military/veterans: Assemble care packages for military members overseas. The Community Blueprint is a set of tools and practices that provide a framework for communities to produce positive, measurable outcomes for veterans, military members and their families.
Women’s empowerment: Identify gaps in your community where women don’t have equal opportunity. Develop a plan to provide literacy classes, teach English, offer vocational skills or train on financial literacy.
Food security: Donate to the local food bank.
You can also join projects already organized by checking with HandsOn Suburban Chicago.