“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Day of Service is Monday, January 16, 2017. Every American is encouraged to celebrate it by giving service to the community — and ideally being inspired to continue giving back all year round.
There are endless ways that each of us can contribute to the good of the family, community or nation we belong to. It can be as simple as helping out a disabled veteran by running errands or shoveling snow; or as big as making an ongoing commitment to a volunteer organization.
These ideas are only meant to start you thinking. The variety of good causes you can support with your time and skills is way too big to cover in this article. But we're confident that with a bit of looking around, you will discover the perfect opportunity to give service in the great MLK tradition.
Share your muscle. If you sit at a desk all day, some physical labor will be a nice change of pace. Help build houses with Habitat for Humanity, maintain the neighborhood park, clean an elderly neighbor's house.
Support health care. Many hospitals and health centers use volunteers to support the medical staff and interact with patients. HIV/AIDS prevention programs, crisis centers and food banks all need help. Animal shelters are desperate for supplies and volunteers as well.
Teach the next generation. If you like working with kids, check out the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, children's programs at the public library, youth sports leagues and local community centers which offer kids an alternative to hanging out on the street.
Offer faith-based service. Your church can connect you to the volunteer opportunities and fundraising efforts it's involved in.
Give your talents. Whether you're a computer geek, sewing whiz, cookie-baking monster, passionate reader or have any other skill you can think of, people out there need the products of your labor or want to learn how to do it themselves.
Serve workplace colleagues. Offer to help them with an unfamiliar task. Give their outstanding effort the public recognition it deserves. Promote their good ideas as well as your own. Vow to show impeccable manners to everyone, every time — smile, please, thank you.
As we said, this is just a very small sampling of the service options you have to choose from. For a complete list of opportunities in your area, go to volunteermatch.org.
Here's to a happy MLK Day of Service ... and maybe the start of a rewarding new dimension in your life!