How (and Why) to Volunteer for MLK Day

The Obama family volunteered at a food kitchen in 2014.

The Obama family volunteered at a food kitchen in 2014.

During the last few days of his presidency, Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama took time to volunteer at a local family shelter. While there, they painted a mural featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It wasn’t the first time they had work in this setting; but they were joined by millions of Americans around the country who were also celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

In 1994, MLK Day was designated as a National Day of Service by Congress. Many individuals who have the day off from work choose to spend it volunteering in their neighborhoods.

Would you like to volunteer but don’t know how to get started? Check out The website allows you to choose your interest area — children’s education, hunger or homelessness, disaster relief, or many others. Then you enter your zip code and press the red search button. Volunteer options will appear.

There are also many big organizations that are hosting special events for MLK Day. If you regularly volunteer in your community, check to see if there are big events happening for the day.

With many schools closed, it’s one of the few times during the school year that murals can be added, newly donated library books can be marked by reading level and shelved, or auditoriums can be deep cleaned. LAWorks, for example, will be restoring and beautifying Lincoln High School, a school that is a landmark in LA’s own Civil Rights Activism and currently serves many DREAMers. 

Other options to volunteer include working at a food bank, which may still need assistance sorting cans that people donated over the holiday season, as well as prepping, serving, and cleaning up from mail service on the MLK Day.

How will you spend the day? Are you volunteering with friends? Co-Workers? Let us know in the comments.