"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today, as we celebrate the birthday of the great Martin Luther King Jr., we're reminded of Dr. King's walk-his-talk message of service. Since President Bill Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act on Aug. 23, 1994, King Day of Service has been a nationwide effort to transform the federal holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into a day of community service that helps to solve social problems. On Monday, Jan. 21, 2008, our nation takes time to commemorate Dr. King's legacy from coast to coast.
Dr. King recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. Next Monday's King Day of Service honors that legacy by seeking to transform the holiday from simply a day off from school or work for millions of Americans, to a day ON – that is, a day of community service that strengthens communities, empowers individuals, and bridges social barriers.
All types of service are encouraged, with the hope that participants continue to serve throughout the year. The service may meet a tangible need; e.g., fixing up a school or senior center. Or, it may meet a need of the spirit; e.g., building a sense of community or mutual responsibility. Ideally, service projects and activities will include reflection on the life and teachings of Dr. King, as well as how volunteer service is one means of addressing his concerns.
King Day Has Consistently Grown Since 1995
King Day of Service has grown steadily since its inception in 1995, as people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are encouraged to get involved in their communities in some way.
In 2007, hundreds of thousands of volunteers in cities and towns across the nation participated in thousands of King Day service projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Highlights included:
* Los Angeles, where 85 community partners -- including many small businesses -- worked together to engage an estimated 40,000 volunteers in a variety of projects;
* Philadelphia, where more than 55,000 volunteers participated in more than 600 projects citywide;
* Atlanta, Dr. King's birthplace, where more than 7,000 volunteers took part in 100 service projects; and
* Washington, D.C., where about 10,000 volunteers served at 80 project sites.
Corporation Holds Annual Grant Competition
Each year, the Corporation for National and Community Service, through a small number of intermediary organizations, awards more than $500,000 in grants to groups across the country planning to stage service projects related to King Day of Service. For information on grant fund availability, go to MLKDay.gov.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is the lead government agency supporting and promoting King Day of Service. As such, the corporation offers grants, toolkits, and a variety of other resources to organizations that want to organize King Day projects.
King Day of Service also is supported by numerous national nonprofit organizations, including:
* American Red Cross
* America's Promise
* Arizona Governor's Commission on Service and Volunteerism
* Big Brothers Big Sisters
* City Year
* The Corps Network
* Do Something
* First Book
* Habitat for Humanity International
* Hands On Network
* HOPE Worldwide
* National Alliance of Faith and Justice
* Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network
* Service for Peace
* United Way of America
* Volunteer Match
* Youth Service America
National corporate sponsors include:
* Bank of America
* Best Buy
* Clear Channel Communications
* UPS Foundation
Resources Available to Promote King Day
A wide variety of free King Day resources for individuals, organizations, and King Day projects is available at www.MLKDay.gov. These include:
* Complete MLK Day Toolkit -- including background on the holiday, project development tips, and sample projects and schedules
* Media outreach tips and materials -- including sample editorials and letters to the editor
* Partnership outreach materials -- including "Now Is the Time," a six-minute video promoting King Day of Service to potential partners
* Marketing materials -- including logos, posters, flyers, T-shirts, event ads, Web banners, and a photo library
* Latest news and updates
* My MLK Day -- a Web portal for organizations to register and promote their King Day projects, sign up and manage community volunteers, and to report results
* Project search for individuals to find and sign up for a project near them
To register your project, or to find a list of projects taking place around the country, go to http://www.mlkday.gov/. For more information or answers to questions about materials posted at MLK.gov, e-mail MLKDay@cns.gov.
SOURCE: Corporation for National & Community Service
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