I realize it's probably too late for you to plan an event for Monday. But if you've never hosted an MLK Day of Service before, this might not be the best year to start. (Believe me, the pandemic has really complicated hosting an event that normally fills a church hall.)
The great thing about serving the community is that you can actually do it any time, not only on the third Monday of January. Not only that, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home! No church hall full of people needed.
You don't even need a lot of time or money.
Like Martin Luther King said, you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
Here are five free or very inexpensive projects you could do on your own this year or at your very first publicly hosted MLK Day of Service next year:
1. Coloring Meals on Wheels bags: this has been a standard for us every single year since we first started in my dining room eighteen years ago. Check with your local Meals on Wheels office, ours has particular bags to use and guidelines for coloring. (Another great coloring option is Color-A-Smile. It's an organization that collects and distributes drawings to residents of Nursing Home, Troops overseas, and anyone in need of a smile. For coloring pages and more information, please visit ColorASmile.org
2. Host a Donation Drive: I've actually been doing this seasonally for the local food pantry for the past year. I find out what the food pantry's current specific request are and then I post on Facebook to ask my friends to drop things off in a box on my porch. Et voila!
*Make sure you ask the organization you're trying to help what they need first, sometimes their answers might surprise you. You could also help an animal shelter (they frequently need old sheets and towels), the United Way (our local one needs diapers frequently) or Women's Shelters (feminine care products can be expensive!)
3. Write a letter! Letters to Strangers is a global youth-run non-profit seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to treatment. For guidelines and instructions, visit LettersToStrangers.org
4. Valentines for Veterans: Using simple craft supplies at home, make valentines and mail them to a VA hospital.
5. Assemble Toiletry Sets for a Shelter: This is a newer project for us and is brilliant in its simplicity. I solicit donations (via social media and public drop boxes) of sample and travel size toiletries. People tend to have a bathroom drawer full of them that they are happy to share.
Sort the donations into small plastic bags (shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc) We donate these to a shelter that has showers for folks to use but can't provide personal care products for everyone.