In addition to being a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is widely observed as a “Day of Service” for countless charitable actions and events across the United States.
This year, the first time the observance has fallen during a pandemic, groups are still holding events aimed at improving their communities, albeit with public health guidelines in mind.
One example is Hands on Atlanta, which has been organizing Day of Service events for over 20 years, with numerous projects taking place this year.
Hands on Atlanta Education Programs Director Chanika Perry told The Christian Post that for her organization, they actually began observing the Day of Service on Thursday with charitable events going on through Monday.
“Hands On Atlanta’s mission is to mobilize the Atlanta community to tackle our city’s most pressing needs, making the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service a natural fit for us. The day has always been a day on, not a day off,” said Perry.
“Ultimately, we hope people are reflective, inspired, and motivated to embrace a lifelong spirit of service if they haven’t yet done so.”
Hands On Atlanta is hosting around 100 different charitable projects and other events for the observance, including delivering meals and clothing distribution.
“Our signature event, the annual MLK Sunday Supper presented by Coca-Cola, will also take place virtually this year on January 17 to engage 400-plus people in a conversation about race and social justice,” Perry said.
“Special guests include DeRay Mckesson, co-founder of Campaign Zero; Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Count; Valerie Love, Chief of HR North America, Coca-Cola; Cheryl Preheim, 11Alive evening anchor; and Alysia Harris, Atlanta-based spoken word poet.”
The Peninsula Multifaith Coalition, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has had to modify their plans to observe the Day of Service due to a stay-at-home order.
In comments emailed to CP, Coalition MLK Day Co-Chairs Dana Izenson and Sue Blockstein explained that “we have modified our community service projects to be completed at home and online.”
“We will start the day with an online opening ceremony featuring Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Reverend Lorrie Owens, president of the San Mateo NAACP. We will also have an online Education Session featuring a community reading and discussion of Dr. King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’” they explained.
“Other projects include making cards for seniors, making blankets for the Ronald McDonald House, knitting and crocheting baby hats, creating paracord bracelets for U.S. troops and first responders, sewing face masks and providing bagged lunches for homeless shelters.”
This will mark the ninth year that the Coalition has taken part in the Day of Service, with Izenson and Blockstein telling CP that it “brings together our diverse faith communities to build bridges of understanding and respect.”
“We organize this annual event to give our members an opportunity to work together with people of other faiths and cultures on projects to benefit our local community,” continued the co-chairs.
“We hope that people take away the importance of giving back to the community and taking care of each other, especially during these challenging times.”