If you find yourself with a desire to spend MLK Day giving back, you’re not alone. There’s a growing trend where people use their time off work for the holiday to spend the day celebrating the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering in their communities.
We caught up with Odesa Stapleton, our chief diversity and inclusion officer, to pick her brain on some ways people could spend their time this year.
Q: If people are planning on volunteering this MLK Day, what are some ways that really make an impact?
A: People can make an impact in their communities on MLK Day by acknowledging why MLK Day is a federal holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in and stood for equal opportunities for all Americans.
Spending time working with local food banks, homeless shelters, nursing homes, schools, churches, non-profit home builders and many other community organizations are all great options as these are places that are looking for volunteers.
There are also numerous for-profit organizations that offer volunteer opportunities to help those who are less fortunate in the communities we serve as well as across the U.S. and around the globe.
Also, making charitable donations to African American organizations, foundation and other donations in memory of family members and loved ones is a great option as well.
Q: Why is it important to use MLK Day as a time to volunteer or give?
A: Martin Luther King Jr. promoted peaceful change and a desire for people to participate in public service. Such actions reflect the importance of his dream, the life he lived and gives us a chance to play a role in eliminating inequalities and barriers to success for those most in need of help in our society.
Q: What are things people can do beyond MLK Day itself to truly make an impact within their communities?
A: Stepping outside of our comfort zones by supporting businesses and people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds is a great place to start. Additionally, supporting Black-owned artists, restaurants, bookstores, etc. on an ongoing basis to help raise the socio-economic status of minority businesses and communities is great, too. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to do the same! This support helps to provide those individuals better opportunities and a more level playing field.
Q: Are there any resources you’re aware of that people can use to get involved?
A: I would recommend that interested people contact their local chamber of commerce and request a list of nonprofit community organizations that may need volunteers throughout the year. Much of this information from your chamber of commerce may also be available online.
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