Celebrating the King Holiday and Legacy of Service
For many people, the third Monday in January is a day off. In 2008, GFWC is encouraging clubs and members to make January 21 as a day on, and to spend the day engaged in volunteer work and awareness campaigns celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King's legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action.
The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.
Service projects can be organized to highlight the issues that Dr. King devoted his life to serving. Consider the following ideas:
- Hold a workshop on Dr. King's life and examine issues in your community that you can address
- Organize an oral history project to document and trace community history
- Help a low income family find free tax preparation services in their community to take advantage of the earned income tax credit or become a volunteer tax preparer yourself
- Build or assist in maintaining or refurbishing a playground
- Participate in a neighborhood watch
- Bring meals to homebound neighbors
- Shovel elderly neighbors' walkways
- Make a public space accessible to the disabled
- Serve meals at a homeless shelter
- Remove graffiti from a building and paint a mural
As of 2006, more than 730 American cities had named a street after Martin Luther King, Jr. King's home state of Georgia has the most, with 105 streets. Only 11 states in the country do not have a street named after King. If your community has a street named after Dr. King, consider organizing a street cleanup effort on January 21. Encourage other organizations in your community to sponsor a block or two of the street. If your city or state does not have a road dedicated to Dr. King, contact your county or state department of transportation to find out how to begin the process of designating one.
GFWC CALL TO ACTION
- Start an initiative in your community to raise funds for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and organize a trip to the memorial’s dedication in 2009
- Create a bookmark project to share quotations from Dr. King and other peace advocates
No matter how you choose to commemorate the King Holiday, remember to report your activities to GFWC.