One of the greatest things about the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is that when we pause to celebrate the life and accomplishments of the civil rights leader, we are also inspired to answer what he called life's most persistent question: “What are you doing for others?” We can respond with action via MLK Day projects and National Day of Service activities surrounding the upcoming inauguration.
The focus on service every MLK holiday is an annual reminder of the unfulfilled needs in our communities and the opportunities we have to meet them. Americans continued to show their generosity in the responses to natural disasters in 2012, but problems that require solutions fueled by “people power” go beyond headline-grabbing events.
Stubborn issues persist from Dr. King's era -- increasing economic opportunity, improving the education system, and caring for our environment continue to be concerns alongside the needs of those affected by natural or manmade disasters that seem to arrive with increasing frequency.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) leads the federal effort to increase service across our nation. Our AmeriCorps members, Senior Corps volunteers, and Social Innovation Fund grantees are making a difference every day, whether it's helping a child learn to read, making sure a forgotten senior citizen has someone looking out for them, or helping Hurricane Sandy victims with recovery and cleanup as they try to rebuild their lives.
As proud as we are of our CNCS participants, we are just as proud of how Americans step up to make their communities better. Volunteering is in our nation's DNA, and there are many tools to connect with local service opportunities through search engines like the one we have on Serve.gov or by pledging to serve through programs like Operation Honor Cards, which collects commitments to support our veterans and military families.
Around the Dr. King holiday we often hear the quote, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” We've seen this demonstrated time and time again through the efforts of ordinary Americans who accept the challenge to make service a part of their lives.
Isn't it cool that greatness is within everyone's reach?
To learn more about the MLK Day of Service and find local opportunities to serve, visit our MLK Day portal. You can make pledges to serve veterans and military families by visiting the Joining Forces site. And visit the Presidential Inaugural Committee website to commit to serve on the National Day of Service and search Serve.gov to find ways to volunteer all year long.
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Additional opportunities to serve include: