MLK Day of Service ideas

Six ways you and your family can take part in this years Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

January 20th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s technically a holiday for many, but back in 1994 President Bill Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act into law, officially transforming it into a day of service.

If you’re looking for ways for you and your kids to get in on the MLK Day of Service action, Richmond has plenty of volunteer opportunities to keep you busy–both the day of and the weekend leading up to it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Dream Works

Richmond Christian Preparatory Academy will host a three-day service event aimed at providing kids with chances to “get bit by the community service bug”, if you will. Help with a Community Clean-up along the Boulevard Corridor on Saturday, the 18th; take part in a Community Feeding at Monroe Park on Sunday, the 19th; and stop by the Service Organizations Fair on Monday, the 20th to learn about more ways to get involved in the community in the future. Visit the event website for more information and to sign up.

2. Beautification Day at Swansboro

Swansboro Elementary School (located at 3160 Midlothian Turnpike) is seeking out for volunteers to help with a school beautification day on Saturday, the 18th from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Kids as young a six (with an adult present) are welcome to join in on the efforts. Dress casually; some projects will require you to get your hands dirty. Sign up by stopping by the HandsOn Greater Richmond event listing.

3. Children’s Book Bank

The Children’s Book Bank accepts like-new and new donations of children’s books to benefit underserved and at-risk kids in Central Virginia. Head over to the bookstore with the kiddos and have them pick out a few books, or let them snag a handful of their gently-loved favorite from their own bookshelves to pass along. Donations can be dropped off at all three Children’s Museum locations.

4. Care Kits for the Homeless

Organizations that care for Richmond’s homeless are always in need of donations of toiletries and personal items to distribute to those they serve. Spend some time on Monday assembling “care kits” with your kids by filling gallon Ziplock bags with soap; deodorant; hand-sanitizer; feminine products; toothbrushes and toothpaste; warm socks; and so on. Not sure where to take your donations? Two great options in town are CARITAS or Daily Planet–just be sure to call or email them to find out the best time to make the drop-off.

5. Brace the Cold (Frame)!

Kids ages 12 and up are welcome to join their parents for a morning spent helping Tricycle Gardens in their efforts to plant and grow additional cold weather crops to support their Get Fresh! Program. Volunteers will build cold frames and move growing materials to raised beds, so dress to work outdoors! To sign up, visit the HandsOn Greater Richmond event listing.

6. Food Bank Donations

According to the Central Virginia Foodbank, one out of seven people in our community is food-insecure. It’s a big problem, but it’s also one that can be framed in a way that even young children can understand on some level: “If a family is hungry, we should share our food with them.” Take the kids to the grocery store and load up a bag with the food banks most needed items: peanut butter; canned vegetables; canned fruit (peaches, especially); hot and cold cereal; boxed macaroni and cheese; Hamburger Helper; and rice. Got older kids? Let them lead the charge by giving them $20 and see how far they can stretch it. Drop boxes can be found all over the Greater Richmond area.

For more ideas, visit the MLK Day website or check out service opportunities available through HandsOn Greater Richmond.

Photo by: Ron Cogswell

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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