Where you can volunteer this Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • Posted on January 12, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day with service

Though Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968 at just 39 years old, the U.S. didn’t commemorate his death with a federal holiday until it was signed into law in 1983 and then first observed three years later in 1986. It took nearly two decades and a long fight for the day to become a reality.

So although Martin Luther King Jr. Day may feel like a long-established tradition, as permanent a fixture as New Year’s Day, that isn’t the case. It’s only been 35 years that we’ve celebrated the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy with a day of service. And it’s worth remembering this in 2021, when activists are still seeking to create change through civil disobedience. It’s easier to support these actions with the benefit of hindsight, but it can take courage to speak up and act in real time.

MLK Day has always been marked as a day of service, a day that encouraged Americans to serve their communities through volunteer work. Avanade employees have taken part in this together in the past. But in 2021, COVID-19 delivered the one-two punch of making volunteering more difficult but also more necessary than ever. Due to the pandemic, people have lost their loved ones, their jobs, their health, their safety, their homes and even their lives. Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, Black and African American communities have felt this at a disproportionate rate, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that “long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”

Minority communities have been hit uniquely hard during the pandemic. With that in mind, for 2021 MLK Day, we wanted to provide resources for people to find opportunities to serve these communities.

  • VolunteerMatch can help you find opportunities in your area specific to COVID-19 relief, like this group, Mothers Helping Mothers, looking to support families dealing with homelessness as a result of the pandemic.
  • Feeding America has a comprehensive network of local food banks, food panties and meal programs dedicated to feeding people in need.
  • United Way allows you to narrow your search to volunteer opportunities that respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.
  • UPchieve is giving Title 1 schools free access to its platform to help connect students with live academic support, and you can volunteer as a tutor.

Do you know of a different volunteer opportunity? Share in the comments below to help connect others to ways to give back this MLK Day.

Stella Goulet

A great way to commemorate Martin Luther King! Thanks for sharing the volunteer opportunities.

January 13, 2021

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