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 Martin Luther King Day of Service

 

Overview 

 

In 1994 Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King's legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action. The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.

Participation in the King Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King's life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round.

Although the scope of the event grows every year, many people still are not aware of the service component of the holiday. By encouraging the participation of as many organizations as possible, we hope to make next year's King Day of Service the biggest and best ever, engaging more people in service that honors Dr. King's life and teachings.

Why Serve?

During his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked tirelessly toward a dream of equality. He believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live, creating the Beloved Community. 

The King Day of Service is a way to transform Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community service that helps solve social problems. That service may meet a tangible need, such as fixing up a school or senior center, or it may meet a need of the spirit, such as building a sense of community or mutual responsibility. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that:

  • Strengthen Communities
    Dr. King recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. Through his words and example, Dr. King challenged individuals to take action and lift up their neighbors and communities through service.
        
  • Empower Individuals
    Dr. King believed each individual possessed the power to lift himself or herself up no matter what his or her circumstances – rich or poor, black or white, man or woman. Whether teaching literacy skills, helping an older adult surf the Web, or helping an individual build the skills they need to acquire a job, acts of service can help others improve their own lives while doing so much for those who serve, as well.
        
  • Bridge Barriers
    In his fight for civil rights, Dr. King inspired Americans to think beyond themselves, look past differences, and work toward equality. Serving side by side, community service bridges barriers between people and teaches us that in the end, we are more alike than we are different.

These ideas of unity, purpose, and the great things that can happen when we work together toward a common goal – are just some of the many reasons we honor Dr. King through service on this special holiday.


How to serve
 

There are several ways to help. For example, your organization can:

  • Sponsor and organize a single service project
  • Sponsor and organize a variety of service projects
  • Form teams to volunteer
  • Encourage friends, colleagues and families to seek out service projects in their hometowns

By doing so, you will help strengthen local communities; bridge social and cultural differences, and demonstrate the compassion and commitment to make a difference and honor Dr. King's memory.

 
 
 

 

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