It’s been 22 years since Congress first declared the third Monday in January as a “day on, not a day off” to encourage businesses, schools and individuals to spend their time doing community service. It’s a noble idea that has taken hold in the Philadelphia area, which claims the largest MLK Day participation rate in the country. On Monday, some 140,000 people are expected to show up for volunteer opportunities around the region. That’s a lot of citizen power turned on to make our streets, schools and communities better—even if it is only this one day.
The city’s official MLK Day organizer, Global Citizen, has gathered hundreds of civic opportunities in every part of the city. But your service doesn’t have to be limited to official events. Grab a picker and a trash bag and clean your block. Check in on an elderly neighbor. Register your coworkers to vote. Make a care package for overseas soldiers. Call your local school to see what it needs—many have events planned for Monday; most need supplies or services all year. Or, pick from the MLKDay events listed below. Use the day as an inspiration to make your city better—and to keep making it better, all year long. Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The time is always right to do right.”
In addition to traditional cleanup projects, groups across the city are offering unique and varied opportunities for volunteers with all types of skills and all levels of expertise. Below is a quick sampling, but you can find dozens more at the MLK Day of Service page, the City of Philadelphia, and All For Good.
For more ideas for things that you can do every day of the year, check out The Citizen’s Do Something guides.
- Donate to Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides “children ages 0 to 12 some of the most important basics of life—free of charge.” See their list of most-needed items, and then drop them off at any of these locations.
- Create a mural with the DREAM Project, which is putting up several inspirational murals at the Lee Cultural Community Center in West Philadelphia.
- Record books on tape for families in need with Philadelphia READS.
- Help the mentally handicapped build a sense of community by playing games and music with them. Hosted by the Unitarian Society of Germantown.
- Restore a school library by helping them sort and organize donated books.
- Help juniors and seniors with the college application process, and break down one of their barriers to success. Organized by the College Application Process Workshop.