This weekend and again on Monday, you have the opportunity to unite with countless other Americans, joining forces to make a difference in local communities. It’s a way to give back, engage, and challenge yourself to improve the world in which you live.

Saturday January 19th is National Day of Service, a tradition started by President Barack Obama on his first inauguration in 2009.  The National Day of Service is in honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and focuses on volunteer efforts in seven key issue areas: health, faith, education, the environment, honoring our veterans and military families, community resilience, and economic development. While participating on the day itself is important, and actively engaging in a shared sense of purpose, the broader idea is to commit to volunteer service all year round.

On the heels of the National Day of Service comes the MLK Day of Service, held on Martin Luther King Day, Monday January 21st. The Day of Service honors the late Dr. King’s tireless commitment to always help others. Hundreds of thousands join together each year in communities across the country in honor of, and to carry on, the example set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

So how can you get involved? If you are currently a member of a civic organization or a church group, or you are a volunteer for a nonprofit – even if you haven’t been active in awhile, get in touch with them. Most groups will likely have a project or activity specifically planned for one or both days in accordance with the national efforts.  If not, contact one of our local area’s many nonprofit organizations – they would be happy to accept your donation of time well spent.

If you think you’d be unable to commit to a group, then simply focus on your own backyard, so to speak. Is there a neighbor who needs help on a home renovation; an elderly person within your community that you could assist, a playground or other public space that could use some cleaning up? There’s plenty of opportunity all around to make a difference by volunteering. And don’t forget to engage your kids. Most schools have the day off on Monday. Make that day special for your kids in a bigger sense. Instill in them a desire to help others now, and you will give them the gifts of confidence and compassion – all because they see their own ability to make a positive change in the world, no matter how small.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service

Local nonprofits /groups that may need volunteers: