20 Service Ideas for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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group community service projectAmericans across the country come together for a National Day of Service, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Join forces with your family, friends, or a local organization and try one of these 20 day of service ideas! 

1. Host a Teddy Bear and Friends Drive 
Collect stuffed animals then donate to a homeless shelter for new arrivals. Your local police or fire station might accept this type of donation as well. A teddy bear can bring comfort to children in times of distress.  

2. Make Hygiene Kits for the Homeless 
Homeless people struggle to obtain basic necessities to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Organize your group to collect hotel samples or purchase travel-sized items from a dollar store to complete the kits. 

3. Safe Passage to School 
School crossing guards are not always available at all schools. Work with community and school leaders to increase safe routes for kids to walk and ride a bike to school. 

4. Green Thumbs Unite 
Work with community leaders to adopt a monument. Plant a community garden around it and monitor your plants throughout the year. 

5. Remember Service Men & Women 
Send care packages to deployed troops, veterans, and wounded soldiers. Write a letter of gratitude for their service, and include snack and personal care items. Check out Operation Gratitude and Give 2 The Troops organizations to learn where to send your care packages.  

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6. Best Face Forward 

Collect unused make-up, perfume, and other cosmetics for a center for abused women. 

7. Fight Childhood Diseases 
Work together with your local health department to set up an immunization day or clinic to immunize children against childhood diseases. Help promote the event, pitch in to set up, and assist with administrative work. 

8. Bring A Smile to the Homeless 
Fill a pair of new socks with granola bars and bottles of water to give to homeless men and women you pass on the street. 

9. Pitch In For the Elderly 
Organize your group to rake leaves, shovel snow, or do housework for elderly neighbors. If you don’t have an elderly neighbor, consider a senior citizens neighborhood community.  

10. Adopt A Park 
Decide on a park to adopt. Grab some trash bags and pick up trash to beautify the park. Getting outside to care for the environment is a great way spend a few hours. 

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11. Care for Furry Ones 
Volunteer at an animal shelter to help clean up, play with the animals, groom animals, and walk the dogs. Your time spent here will make the shelter a nicer environment for the furry residents. 

12. Donate Old Linens to an Animal Shelter 
Linen closets are often overloaded with too many worn out items. Donate old bath towels, blankets, and sheets to your local animal shelter. These household items are used for bedding, clean up, and keeping the animals warm. 

13. Read to Senior Citizens 
Aging eyes can make it difficult to read fine print. Volunteer to read letters, newspapers, or magazines to residents in a local nursing home.  

14. Book Collection 
Collect used magazines, paperbacks, and novels to donate to prisons, jails, and shelters. These places are often overlooked when a group is hosting a book drive, but books are so needed at these community places. 

15. Recycle Old Athletic Shoes 
Sneakers can be transformed into sports surfaces like running tracks, baseball fields, and basketball courts. Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program has ground down more than 28 millions pairs of shoes turning them into more than 450,000 sports surfaces around the world. Donate collected sneakers at a Nike Store near you. 

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16. Collect Eyeglasses 
Many nonprofit organizations collect old glasses and repurpose them by sending them to people in need. OneSight and Lions Clubs International are two organizations helping in this worthy cause. Research online which group has a location closer to you. 

17. Stand Up Against Hunger 
People struggle with hunger every day. Collect non-perishable food items from neighbors, family and friends and donate to your local food bank. Before collecting items, check out your local food bank’s website to see what items are accepted. 

18. Toy Drive 
Gather used baby and toddler toys from friends, family, and neighbors. Donate these items to a nearby church, synagogue, mosque, or temple for their youngest members. 

19. Help A Child To Read 
Become a literacy volunteer to tutor children at your local library or at an afterschool program. It’s worthy of your time to help a child learn one of the most essential life skills. 

20. Host A Bake-Off 
Hit the kitchen and bake up a pile of goodies. Deliver to local police and fire stations as a way of thanking them for their community service. 

You can make a big difference by giving a day of volunteering in your community. Tell us how you plan to serve!

Posted by Kate White

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Posted by Chris McCarthy on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:03 PM EST
I am volunteering my food and home this Sat for a party for band parent volunteers who worked to build all the props and schlep all the equipment for Apex High School Band this past season. I am also making a big crock of chicken curry and sharing it with them!

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