MLK Day of Service January 20:

Posted on January 17, 2020 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

“Make It a Day on, Not a Day off”

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By Alice Garbarini Hurley

In bustling cities and small towns across America, individuals and families will volunteer in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of peace, unity and positive change on the federal holiday honoring his birthday, Monday, January 20, with a National Day of Service. The day is also an opportunity to give thanks to all our volunteers who help to make the programs of Catholic Charities of New York possible.

Volunteering is at the heart of Catholic Charities New York all year round. By helping out on the MLK Day of Service, you not only honor Dr. King’s legacy, but you lay the foundation to serve your community as a regular volunteer. Visit Catholic Charities of New York’s volunteer website for your chance to make a difference. 

“It’s important to give back,” said Amaris White, Catholic Charities’ Director of Volunteer Coordination and Outreach.  “At the end of the day, most people are good people and are willing to help others.”

Catholic Charities is a great starting point, she said, because its network of 90 agencies offers a range of volunteer options, from monthly to several times a week—or even just one single day. “The opportunities are truly endless,” she said.

“I’m half Japanese,” White added. “Volunteering and giving back to the community is part of Japanese culture.” She volunteered all through her school years, tutoring in a day care center, helping at a children’s hospital in college and, during her law school years, working with victims of domestic abuse.


The 25th MLK Day of Service is a day to be “other-centered” rather than self-centered, according to the National & Community Service website. It’s a small window of time that helps make the world a softer place with one gesture, one helping hand, one wish to be better. The day is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community,” according to Volunteer New York.

In the New York metropolitan area, you could join efforts to clean up city parks, gather your children to help prepare meals or care packages for a local soup kitchen or do an errand or household chore for an older neighbor who lives alone.

Check these links for MLK Service Day ideas:

Need a little nudge? Assemble a group of friends and volunteer together. According to HelpGuide, there are surprising benefits to helping others that can make you feel healthier and happier:

  1. Volunteering connects you to other people.
  2. Volunteering is good for your mind and body.
  3. Volunteering can advance your career.
  4. Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life.

Finally, consider this stat from Repair the World at “The average American will spend 2,655 hours of their life volunteering but five times as many hours shopping.” The MLK Day of Service is a great opportunity to start to turn that stat around. Dr. King famously said, “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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