All government agencies and many private businesses will be closed this Monday to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but don’t let the appeal of a three-day weekend overshadow the purpose of the day.
Established as a federal holiday in 1983, MLK Day was designated a National Day of Service by Congress in 1994. Across the country, volunteer groups turn Monday into “a day on, not a day off” by building community gardens, distributing food, sprucing up schools, and helping the homeless.
If you’re interested in volunteering but don’t know where to begin, websites like volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, and allforgood.org can connect you with opportunities in your area. And if you are in or near one of these eight major U.S. cities, check out this list of resources and nonprofits hosting MLK Day events.
- Hands On Atlanta
- Partnership Against Domestic Violence — Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service Project!
- Decatur Preservation Alliance — Decatur Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project
- AmeriCorps Project YES! — 8th Annual MLK Day Youth Literacy Fair
- Illinois JusticeCorps — MLK Day of Service
- A Safe Haven — Help us Feed Americans in Need!
- Black Heritage Society/Houston Food Bank — MLK Community Festival & Health Fair
- The Student Apprentice — Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House
- Volunteer Houston — MLK 2015 Natural Disaster Prep
- L.A. Works — MLK Jr. Day of Service 2015
- L.A.’s Promise — MLK Beautification Day
- City of West Hollywood Volunteer Corp — 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
New York City
- Reading Partners — New York MLK Day
- Student Conservation Association — Effort to restore East River Park
- New York City Coalition Against Hunger — MLK Day Serv-a-thon
- Sierra Club — MLK Day Beaver Habitat Restoration Project
- East Valley RSVP — Project C.U.R.E.
- Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission — City of Avondale Community Cleanup
- Birthing Project USA — Coast to Coast Baby Shower
- PRO-ACT — MLK Day of Service Community Cleanup
- PowerCorpsPHL — MLK S.H.A.R.E. Food Program
- Montgomery County Volunteer Center — MLK Day of Service 2015
- The Student Conservation Association — Anacostia Park Cleanup
- City Year Washington, D.C. — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
Beyond volunteering, you can also attend or host an America’s Sunday Supper. In the spirit King’s desire to encourage deep personal relationships between people of diverse backgrounds, Sunday Suppers have become an important part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. If you’re interested in hosting a dinner, which can range in size from large events at community centers to intimate gatherings at local restaurants, the Points of Light Foundation provides toolkits that includes invitations, celebrity chef recipes, and conversation starters.