It’s the start of a new year and many of us have pledged to give back more in 2011. The upcoming Martin Luther King Day of Service is our first chance to get out there and honor this pledge. Seems especially fitting during this time of healing for our country.
MLK Day is one of the most widespread efforts all year that we, as a nation come together in the spirit of compassion and love, to play that "small role in making the lives of others better," just as President Obama charged to all of us at the memorial yesterday in Tucson.
Here are some ideas to make it easy to participate.
Around the Nation: America's Sunday Supper: This Sunday, January 16th at 6pm, HandsOn Network is offering a unique opportunity to be a part of an interactive online discussion being held in Washington DC. Here is your chance to discuss our communities' and our nation's biggest issues with today’s top service leaders from all backgrounds. The Sunday Supper will be filmed and aired live in front of a studio audience out of DC. To register your virtual attendance, visit www.HandsOnNetwork.org You can also use this site to find projects in your community!
Around Atlanta: On Monday, January 17th, the Annual National Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday March and Rally will take place around the nation, with the largest celebration taking place in Atlanta. The annual March starts at 1pm at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Auburn Ave and heads down Auburn ending around the King National Historic Site. A rally is then held around the stage until 4pm. For more information, head over to http://www.mlkmarchaaar.org.
HandsOn Atlanta hosts its Annual King Summit at the Ferst Center for the Performing Arts at Georgia Tech. Kicking-off the summit will be a rally featuring music, dance and a conversation with Senator Jason Carter, Andrea Young, and Brooke Jackson Edmonds. Participants are then encouraged to take the afternoon and sign up for a service project. This event is free and starts at 10am. For more information, visit HandsOn Atlanta
Around the block: For those looking to do your own project in any community.
Sure, you can create your own project. You can clean up a park or playground, build that community garden you’ve had on your list, even just taking the day to clean out your closet and donate your clothes, donate food or volunteer at a local food bank. Creating a service project for yourself or a small group of friends is equally impactful.
However, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- As businesses, some non-profits aren’t open or aren't fully staffed on this day because it is a national holiday, so call ahead.
- Most volunteer projects require an application and training, so if you don’t have an existing relationship as a volunteer with a charity, you may run into some obstacles on Monday.
- But don’t let this stop you from using this day as a day to begin serving your community. Take this opportunity to find a place to volunteer and submit your application to begin the process. Make the commitment that can be carried out all year.
You aren't done yet. Here are some ways to share your story. Don't be shy, be proud! The collaboration of stories is something that makes this day extra special for all Americans.
You can also visit MyImpact.org which is a great tool that helps you track, measure, and share your volunteerism on this day and throughout the year. You can use your phone to log your hours and share your impact.
Get rewarded for your service, by visiting Do Good Get Rewards – this is a site that allows volunteers to earn points for the hours donated to help and redeem them for rewards including hotel rooms, all-inclusive resorts, dining certificates, health club memberships, spa certificates and more.