While Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemorates the civil rights leader’s birthday and his contributions to American history, it was also established as a national day of service by a federal bill in 1994. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. This year we offer ideas of how you can provide participate, by providing service at home or on your own out in the community, while still following public health guidelines to keep you safe and healthy.
Read on for 18 ways to make MLK Day of Service on January 18 a day on, not a day off!
Alleviating Poverty through Service
While his contributions to the civil rights movement are well known, King also fought to alleviate poverty in America. You can honor his legacy by contributing to organizations that are providing food assistance, shelter, and meeting the essential needs of Burien residents.
- Donate to the virtual Empty Bowls fundraiser to support the Highline Area Food Bank and White Center Food Bank.
- Support organizations helping people experiencing homelessness. Transform Burien, Mary’s Place, and Hospitality House provide year-round shelter or services. The Highline United Methodist Church’s Extreme Weather Shelter is seeking volunteers and donations.
- Donate to a local organization that helps people in need.
Beautify the Community
Take pride in your neighborhood and help protect your local environment by helping beautify your neighborhood.
- Pick up litter on your street or in your neighborhood.
- Help restore parks and green spaces with the City of Burien Adopt-a-Park program. Email Burien Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PaRCS) to get involved!
- Find more environmental volunteer opportunities.
When you support a local business, you are also supporting your neighbors. Burien’s mom and pop businesses often support multiple generations of a family as well as the livelihoods of dozens of workers. The pandemic has created hardship for our small businesses. By supporting these businesses, you contribute to an independent and vibrant economy in Burien.
- Shop at a local BIPOC-owned small business and restaurants.
- Support organizations that provide pathways to economic opportunity and prosperity, such as Ventures Nonprofit, ANEW, and El Centro de la Raza.
Learn and Discuss Dr. King’s Life and Teachings
One way you can honor King’s legacy is by learning more about his life and teachings, including the principles of non-violence and his commitment to eliminating poverty.
- Read a book from one of the MLK Day booklists at the King County Library System and PBS.
- Host a virtual discussion with friends and family about King’s life and teachings, his principles of non-violence, and community challenges and ways to address them through service and volunteering.
Provide Community Service to Neighbors and Families
The pandemic has caused many of our community members to feel more isolated. Consider reaching out and helping your neighbor or friend or participate in a program that connects people to those in need.
- Call a friend, family member, or someone in your life that may be lonely.
- Make phone calls to seniors in need with Sound Alliance’s Social Connection Project.
- Participate in your local neighborhood block watch program.
- Volunteer to help care for animals waiting for their forever home at Burien CARES.
- Shovel elderly neighbors’ walkways, clear leaves, or help with other yard maintenance.
Promote Healthy Futures
- Donate blood. Bloodworks NW is asking for 10,000 donors in the next 10 days to book appointments to give blood.
- Support COVID-19 relief efforts and learn more about racial disparities in health care.