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Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day & Why Celebrate It As A Service Day?

Ways to make your MLK a "Day On not a Day Off".

By Melissa Shrader Editor Publisher Loveland Macaroni Kid January 17, 2022

famous "I Have a Dream?" speech? MLK Jr day isn't just a day that kids get off from school. It's an opportunity to do by example. Show our kids how to create a kinder gentler world with compassion and action to help those around them.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, his birthday wasn't declared a federal holiday in 1986. He was a force to be reckoned with during the Civil Rights movement. A leader and activist during the Civil Rights movement, he changed many things that have made a huge impact on our lives today. Dr. King devoted his life to equality, social justice, economic advancement, and opportunity for all. He challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be.

“I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Although his life was cut short, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. continues.

In recognition of Dr. King’s incredible legacy of service to all, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a National Day of Service in 1994. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”

The MLK Day of Service shines a spotlight on service as a powerful force to bridge economic and social divides. National Days of Service provide us with an opportunity to join neighbors and local leaders to tackle community challenges and strengthen the nation.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 

This year's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is January 17, 2022, and marks the 27th anniversary of the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January, MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, encouraging Americans young and old to volunteer to improve their communities. Americans across the country are rolling up their sleeves in service. Here’s how to get involved and honor Dr. King’s legacy: check out www.MLKDay.gov to locate a service project in your community. You can also organize and submit your own project. #MLKDay

AmeriCorps has lead this effort for the last quarter-century. The organization encourages everyone to share and celebrate their service projects and accomplishments in Dr. King's memory. 

You may think that your kids are too young to honor Martin Luther King Jr. No way! Anyone can volunteer, and any kind of service honors Dr. King's life and legacy. You can choose one of the following ideas or come up with your own. Ask your kids for suggestions, too... you may be surprised by what they come up with! Even during COVID times, there are service projects you and your family can do that help others, while also allowing you to follow COVID guidelines. Here are some ideas:

Kindergarten - 2nd Grades

  • Make cards or pictures for nursing home residents ( https://loveforourelders.org/)
  • Write to an elderly neighbor or local nursing home resident
  • Hold a book drive
  • Package care bags for homeless or families in need
  • Collect old towels, stuffed animals, and blankets for an animal shelter
  • Decorate lunch bags and use for snack sacks for families in need or the homeless

3rd - 5th Grades

  • Make easy, no-sew fleece blankets for children in local hospitals ( http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Make-a-Blanket)
  • Collect and sort school supplies and create kits to benefit a local shelter or library
  • Rake leaves or shovel snow for elderly or disabled neighbors
  • Plant seeds to beautify neighbors' yards
  • Collect new socks for the homeless

6th - 8th Grades

  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  • Give your time (safely) to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter
  • Participate in charity walks or runs
  • Sponsor an Art Show
  • Foster a pet
  • Shoot a video for a lonely nursing home or assisted living resident and upload it to https://carenotcovid.com/

High School

  • Make and donate masks to local family shelters
  • Start a club at your school that promotes volunteerism throughout the year
  • Initiate a park clean up or beautification project
  • Look for a nonprofit that interests you
  • Install a buddy bench at a school
  • Help with a Habitat for Humanity project


For some fun, printables check out my Pinterest board


The MLK Day of Service is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs.