Next Monday, January 17 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students may be reading “Letter From Birmingham Jail” (1963) or listening to the more widely disseminated “I Have a Dream” speech; both of which are worthy ways of honoring MLK. But if you have the privilege of a day off and you want to spend your time giving back to your community, we have some volunteer ideas for you.
Now, these are just a launchpad. There are several organizations that need helping hands on MLK Day and throughout the whole year. The list that follows is nowhere near exhaustive, but it is a start. May this month’s volunteerism beget more volunteerism.
Help those experiencing poverty with Mission Oak Cliff. In the morning, stock the food pantry and help make hygiene kits. In the afternoon, sort through donated clothes or serve lunch. Check out the volunteer needs and schedule here. Then sign up as an individual or group.
For more than 40 years, the Stewpot has helped the growing population of Dallas residents experiencing homelessness. Join the organization in its efforts by serving breakfast, lunch, or dinner downtown. Find more volunteer information on the Stewpot website.
When I went to the University of Washington in Seattle, thousands of students would participate in a Day of Service on MLK Day. We’d disperse throughout the city in large groups to tackle various projects. Once I spent a morning and afternoon tearing out invasive ivy and blackberries from parklands. All that to say: Getting outside in the fresh, crisp air and getting muddy is invigorating. If you agree, you can volunteer for a group project such as park and trail beautification.
Per the parks and rec website, “Currently, we need volunteers to help with the planting trees, building and maintaining butterfly gardens, wildflower preservation campaigns, park/trail cleanup and beautification. Work may include weeding, repotting and replacing plants, mulching, cutting back overgrown plants, and other routine gardening maintenance. This is a great opportunity for families with children of all ages, community groups, and corporate team-building initiatives.” Apply to be a Dallas Parks and Recreation volunteer, or fill out an application.
Another outdoorsy endeavor? Plant trees with the Urban Forest Advisory Committee. Dallas is in desperate need of more tree coverage. (Just read this article about the Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan.) And you can help. Team up with a neighborhood association or wrangle up your own group and spearhead a planting project. You can even join UFAC’s ongoing tree planting sessions. For more information, contact UFAC’s Tree-Planting Team Leader.
The full-service food pantry will host a MLK Day of Service: Feeding the Community on January 17 in Arlington. The organization needs help sorting and distributing food from 8:30 a.m. until noon. (Register online.)
For our military veteran readers out there, this one’s for you. It’s not on MLK Day per se, but on January 29, Mission Continues will host a MLK Day of Service cleaning Fish Creek.