“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
Today we celebrate the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Even though today is a federal holiday, you may have heard of today referred to as “a day on, not a day off.” This is because in 1994, Congress designated our annual recognition of Dr. King’s legacy as annual day of service. Dr. King dedicated his life to fighting for freedom, equality, and justice for all. He used community engagement and action to solve social problems occurring within the United States. Dr. King made his mark. How will you make yours?
“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. You can be that servant”
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Drum Major Instinct Sermon, 1968
The Martin Luther King Day of Service is based on Dr. King’s belief in engagement and action to improve the community. The MLK Day of Service gives you the opportunity to serve your community through a variety of projects. Last year, millions of people across the country participated in service projects such as collecting food and clothing and delivering meals. Some volunteers got their hands dirty by building homes for veterans and military families, refurbishing schools and community centers, or beautifying their neighborhoods. While others conducted job-training programs and financial literacy workshops.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways for you to use your gifts and talents, but why limit it to only one day of the year? Consider if you’re an accountant. Could you assist a small nonprofit with bookkeeping or local families as they prepare for tax season? If you are an artist, consider how your works could brighten the rooms of patients in long-term care facilities. No matter what you do or who you are, imagine just what a friendly smile and a hello could do at the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Your warmth and kindness may be that extra piece of hope that someone needs to keep going on. Take the MLK Day Challenge and commit to service throughout the year. Then come back and let us know how you will make your mark.
“If you give your life to a cause in which you believe, and if it is right and just, and if your life comes to an end as a result of this, then your life could not have been spent in a more redemptive way. I think that is what my husband has done.”
—Coretta Scott King, April 9, 1968