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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Many Ways to Honor Martin Luther King Jr’s Life of Volunteer Service

Borrowing from a current US Department of the Interior (DOI) webpage:

MLK Day of Service

Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service (MLK Day) is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” Participation in service activities has grown each year as more Americans are encouraged to provide meaningful change in their communities. 

Whether service meets a tangible need, such as fixing up a school or senior center, builds a sense of community or mutual responsibility. In a pandemic environment, service can take on the form of sending a meal through a meal delivery service, serving as a virtual mentor, or donating money to a charitable cause to help those who lack basic essential items.

No matter the choice, service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. It breaks down barriers by bringing people from different backgrounds together and it benefits those who choose to serve.

Coretta Scott King said, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”  

As stewards of America’s lands and natural resources, the work we do at DOI epitomizes Dr. King’s belief in the power of service, as expressed in his legendary quote, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

In keeping with Dr. King’s example, let us embrace the belief that our destiny is shared and accept our obligations to each other, future generations and the American people by strengthening the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth.  Each one of us can help answer his call by pledging to love and serve.

According to Kate White’s post on www.SignUpGenious, there are many ways to volunteer and/or spur ideas for lifelong projects –

20 Service Ideas for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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 or ride bikes 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 Troops organizations 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. 


Borrowing from the current AmeriCorps webpage to find volunteer opportunities within 20 miles of the 07825 zipcode

High School Student Exchange Program, Exchange Students

❤Become A Host Family ❤ (Nationwide)

Flexible Schedule Dallas, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

Crisis Text Line

Save Lives From Your Couch By Becoming A Volunteer Crisis Counselor (Remote)

Flexible Schedule Nationwide, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES)

Become A Host Family To A High School Exchange Student!

Flexible Schedule Henderson, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

$2,000 Scholarship: Share Our Mental Health Resource Guide!

12/01/22 Anytown, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

Caring Contact

Become A Caring And Crisis Hotline Listener

11/28/22 Westfield, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

Pacific Community Ventures

Support Minority-Owned Businesses With Finance Advice

Flexible Schedule Oakland, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

American Red Cross – New Jersey Region

Dat (Disaster Action Team) Member

Flexible Schedule Blairstown, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY


Prayer Team Warrior

Flexible Schedule Dallas, USVIEW OPPORTUNITY

Lasagna Love

Help A Neighbor with a Homemade Meal

Flexible Schedule Delaware, US

Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Writer
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.