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MLK Day Action Guides: Blueprints for Service

by Samantha Jo Warfield

During his lifetime, Dr. King set big goals, focused relentlessly on results, and achieved historic change. To meet today’s challenges, we need a new generation of citizens to take action to solve problems in their communities. Ten days from now, thousands of Americans will respond to that challenge as they serve their community on the 25th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service.

Want to join them? It’s not too late. There are many ways to serve . Here are a few toolkits to get you started:

Organize a Book and School Supply Drive

Success in school depends on a lot of factors, including access to the right tools. Help students get the materials they need by organizing a school supply drive project.

Create or Expand a Community Garden

All of us have heard the admonition "Eat your vegetables!" But what if you couldn’t afford them or they weren’t readily available? Help increase access to healthy foods by creating a community garden project.

Teach Financial Literacy

Many of us have seen our earnings plummet while our debts mount. We’re making impossible choices between today’s immediate needs and tomorrow’s inevitable challenges. While there’s a natural tendency to burrow inside when times are tough, sharing your experience, seeking advice, and offering counsel can help alleviate the emotional burden of financial woes. Learn how to plan your own financial literacy project.

Write Letters to Troops

Though images of the people that embody a life of service flash before our eyes on TV, not enough of us think about the people on active military duty. Little League coaches, block captains, farmers and church deacons who are far from home for months or even years. On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, we contemplate their sacrifices and make small gestures that connect our own service to theirs. Honor these heroes by designing a letter and care package campaign for U.S. troops.

Plant Trees in Your Neighborhood

Trees do so much for us, asking relatively little in return. They turn an ordinary city street into a pleasant strolling ground, providing shade, color, and texture. And these are only the visible benefits. Trees also soak up carbon dioxide and stabilize soil, which helps to clean up the air we breathe and guard against flooding. Give back to the earth by planning your own tree-planting project.

Train Your Neighbors to Prepare for Disaster

Unexpected events can turn an ordinary day into a life-threatening disaster, a familiar neighborhood into a dangerous and desolate space. Most of us know we should plan for the inevitable, but very few of us do. By educating yourself and modeling what needs to be done, you can set a great example and pass information along to your neighbors. This way everyone will face the storm together. Properly equip your neighbors to do so by leading a disaster preparedness project.

In addition, on you can find additional resources or search for other volunteer opportunities. Whatever you do, know that by serving on this 25th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service and throughout the year, we can realize Dr. King’s dream of equality and opportunity for all and build America’s new foundation

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