This coming Monday, the third Monday in January, is a federal holiday. It has been since the early 1980s, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was so honored.
But, instead of the day being another “day off,” in the mid-1990s, Congress turned the day into something even more meaningful — a day of service, or a “day on.”
Across the nation — and, chances are, in your community — many people will spend Jan. 21 helping others. The MLK Day of Service has become a national effort to give back to the community or, in other words, to truly serve one’s community.
Many towns, schools, civic groups, Scout troops, etc., have big plans for this coming Monday. Volunteers will be out and about doing everything from cleaning public spaces to helping senior citizens or those less fortunate. Many lives will be changed on that day — not only the recipients of good deeds, but also those who are helping those in need.
This mobilization of volunteers on a single day is unique to the Day of Service. It’s also an important teaching tool. Schools have made community service a part of their curriculum, but this day can be utilized to show younger children the importance of giving back and helping those who need it.
So how can you get involved? A starting point might be a quick internet search. Find out if your local government, school district or civic groups are planning events, and if you can join them.
Absent that, or if you’re just not into joining groups, there are ways individuals can lend a hand. You don’t have to move mountains, just, maybe, clear the storm drain in front of your house or walk through a park and pick up any trash you see. Every little thing makes a difference.
On Monday, let’s honor Dr. King by answering his call to service. Let’s spend some time helping our communities, schools, parks and less-fortunate citizens. It’s a most fitting tribute.