Millions of Americans will be able to enjoy a three-day weekend because of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day on January 17, but the holiday also provides opportunities to volunteer and give back.
The MLK Center for Nonviolent Social Change is holding a global teaching event on Friday, giving educators access to lesson plans and activities based on the work and life of Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King. Lesson plans will be free to download for students in grades K-12. Chance Patterson of the King Center added that lesson plans aren’t limited to weekends at MLK or teachers.
“We want to inspire students to believe that they can make a difference, and that they can be part of the change they want to see in the world,” Chance Patterson of the King Center told CNN.
For those who live in the Washington, D.C. metro area, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress are looking for volunteers to digitally copy historical documents from African-American history to personal letters and journals of historical figures.
Digital reproductions will make copies widely available to the public and to those with visual and hearing disabilities.
Other volunteer opportunities in the DMV include Islamic Relief USA, which is looking for people to eat hot meals, heating equipment, sanitizers and groceries for diverse communities and neighbors in need on Monday, January 17, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
AmeriCorps has a searchable database of MLK Day volunteer opportunities available across the country. Simply enter your zip code and click on the “MLK Day” box to find projects available in your area.
For those who want to help financially, there are a range of organizations that people can donate to. The Equal Justice Initiative, which has been working to end mass internment, and the National Urban League have been fighting for African Americans and others for more than 100 years. Additionally, people can donate to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, both of which campaign for civil rights.
If you want to stay safe during the holiday, there are a range of ‘volunteer on demand’ apps that can help the visually impaired, those who need help with language translation or those looking for career or mentoring advice.
Columbia University also holds an MLK Service Day and they have included a list of food pantries where people can volunteer or donate food as well,
King, a pastor and civil rights activist, has spent his life focusing on the fair treatment and equality of blacks around the world. However, he was also a man who advocated nonviolence and that people of all races and colors should be able to live in harmony.