Friday Favorites - MLK Jr. Day of Service

My favorite ways to give back to the local community

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is on Monday, and I know several people who always participate in a "Day of Service" activity. The idea is that MLK Jr. Day should be a "Day On, Not a Day Off" - and while I don't have the day off work on Monday I've got a little free time in the morning so I'm looking for ways to participate. 

The United Way of the Triangle's website has several MLK Jr. Day of Service 2017 events that are already booked full with volunteers, but there are still a few opportunities available. I know I'll be looking into these options in more detail over the next couple of days to find a volunteer opportunity that fits my schedule and interests.

In addition, there is The Time is Now 5K race early Monday morning to benefit the Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award. "Established in 2015, the award serves to support current Tar Heels along their academic journey while providing an avenue for impact outside the classroom through extracurricular engagement, as Faith did during her time on campus." (Source) I plan on running the race, so come join me if you're in the area!

I'm also super excited that my First Pages book drive has come to an end and I've got a full box to deliver to the organization, as well as an overflowing box that my friend Kristen collected! (Whoo hoo, go Kristen! Her box has TONS of books!) We'll be delivering the books this Saturday!

While the nature park clean-up events on the MLK Jr. Day of Service 2017 opportunities page have already filled up with volunteers, I'm excited to plan for more spring clean-up events like the one I did last year at Umstead State Park, or many of the Eno River and Ellerbee Creek watershed clean-up events that are regularly organized.

Habitat for Humanity of Durham and Orange County Habitat for Humanity both have on-going build projects that need volunteers throughout January and February, so even if this weekend or MLK Jr. Day don't work for your schedule you can always volunteer to help with a build!

If you don't have the day off on Monday or you can't take PTO for the Day of Service there are plenty of ways you can still give back:

  • Donors Choose: Donors Choose is a way to support local classrooms by funding project and materials requests. For two years in a row the company I work for has fully funded all outstanding STEM projects for highest poverty schools in the Durham-Chapel Hill area in September, and they've provided Donors Choose gift cards to all employees to support projects of their choice. Many of us took that opportunity match the gift cards with our own donations to fund projects requesting art materials, band materials, books, iPads, and a whole variety of other requests. The best part of this website is you can find specific teachers or schools in your area or you can choose to fund a project that aligns with your interests. (Loved art, hated math class while you were in grade school? No worries! Fund an art classroom!)
  • Amazon Smile: If you have to get some shopping done Amazon Smile is a great way to make purchases and have a small amount of the price donated to a charity of your choice. There are almost one million charities to choose from, from big national charities to local charities, so you can find something that supports a cause close to your heart and, with no extra cost to you, support that charity financially just by shopping on Amazon.
  • GoFundMe: GoFundMe is a crowd-sourced platform to raise money for a variety of projects. Projects may be start-ups for new businesses or support for families in crisis, or a secure way to donate to a local non-profit like The Displaced Period Project. I've used GoFundMe several times to support a variety of causes, and it's a great way to find local projects that need volunteers or funds.

I know I tend to heavily focus on outdoors, literacy, wellness, and social justice issues, but there are so many great opportunities available on Monday and throughout the year. Whether you're delivering meals, reading to kids, organizing charity drives, or even doing the less glamorous tasks like collecting and cleaning up donations, doing administrative work, or just greeting visitors at a non-profit center, there are so many great ways to get involved in the area. Find something that fits your interests on some of these sites:

Do you have any plans for the MLK Jr. Day of Service? Have you participated in an MLK Jr. Day of Service before? Let me know what you're up to this Monday in the comments!


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