MLK Day of Service Opportunities

January 14, 2019

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, Jan. 21, is MLK Day of Service, the annual federal holiday dedicated to Dr. King. For the past 20 years, led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the MLK Day of Service has honored King’s legacy by observing “a day on, not a day off.”

This day of national volunteering events empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and follows Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

Carrington supports the MLK Day of Service, and encourages everyone to find a volunteer opportunity close to home.

“We believe in supporting our communities in any way we can,” says Shelly Lawrence, Executive Director of Community Relations for Carrington Charitable Foundation. “So get out there and find something you’re passionate about contributing to. Giving doesn’t always mean money; time and goods can be just as valuable if not MORE. Inspire the people around you by showing them the good you can do by getting out there!”

Here are some projects and organizations needing volunteers in Orange County/SoCal:
The Orange County 2019 Point in Time Count is part of a national program to count and survey people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers are needed to do the surveys and compile the results. The count will go on in all 34 cities in Orange County. Volunteers are also needed to staff the five deployment centers where volunteers will report, pick up supplies, and turn in their survey paperwork.

Orange County Food Bank, a program of the Community Action Partnership of Orange County, needs volunteer “packing partners” at its warehouse. The Food Bank distributes nearly 20 million pounds of food annually to seniors and others in this area who are experiencing food insecurity. They also provide food and personal care items to nearly 400 other nonprofits throughout Orange County. Volunteers package 23,500 boxes of food each month for distribution at 50 sites across the county.

Save Our Beach needs volunteers to pick up plastic debris and other litter at Seal Beach starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, January 19, and Saturday, February 16. This organization’s volunteers gather for monthly clean-ups to remove some of the 40 tons of plastic trash and other detritus that wash up on SoCal beaches every year.

In Plano, Texas:
Hop on the DART to Fair Park on MLK Day, Jan. 21, to volunteer as a spotter, golf cart driver, or check-in helper (among other duties) at Dallas’ annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. The parade begins at Holmes Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, with an estimated 200,000 spectators expected to watch along the route that winds through downtown. Check-in for volunteers is 7 a.m. Register here in advance.

The City of Plano Animal Shelter needs volunteers willing to give a few hours a month to serve as greeters, administrative assistants, photographers, cat or dog room attendants, kennel attendants, dog exercisers and socializers, and laundry attendants. Volunteer groups of 5-8 people are needed throughout the year to help with basic shelter duties and special projects. This is a great opportunity for corporate, faith-based/civic and school groups (18+) to spend a few hours helping around the shelter. You could also volunteer to be a foster to shelter dogs and cats, helping them to become more adoptable by taking them home for a few weeks. Check out the shelter’s wish list.

Organize your own community clean-up in and around Plano by registering here. Recent clean-ups have cleared brush and trash from the Chisholm Trail and there’s a clean-up scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2 (1-3 p.m.), in Coyote Creek Park.

In Jacksonville, Florida:
Greystone Health Jacksonville Nursing Home needs volunteers to help with teaching ongoing craft, painting, and beading classes. They also need volunteers to lead residents in discussion groups about history and current events, and to help out with their garden club, birdwatching group, and creative writing class. Are you a good housepainter? They could also use touch-ups to freshen up the facility. Get in touch with them by calling Rebecca Matheny, 904-245-7620.

Jacksonville’s Learn to Read tutoring program needs volunteers in adult education to work in one-on-one tutoring sessions and in small groups of three to five students working on basic reading lessons and the beginning how-tos of computer use for those at the lowest levels of literacy. Register to help here.

Volunteer drivers are needed to drive cancer patients who do not have their own transportation, or are not healthy enough to drive themselves, to and from their oncology treatment appointments at area hospitals and medical centers. If you’re available to do this in the Jacksonville area, contact

In Westfield, Indiana:
Every year thousands of Hoosier families have food to eat because of the compassionate volunteers at Gleaners Food Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to feeding the hungry. Collecting and distributing more than 2 million pounds a food a month, Gleaners depends on volunteers to fulfill its mission. In 2018, their 26,000 volunteers did the work of 39 full-time employees with an approximate value of $1.95 million. That volunteer time equates to 5,850,000 meals. Register to help, as an individual or corporate team, here.

Share the love of books by serving as a Library Express Volunteer to select and deliver library material to patrons who are homebound in Marion County. Volunteers will be matched with one patron. The time commitment is 2-8 hours a month, and the delivery schedule is set mutually by the patron and the volunteer. Volunteers are needed when a patron in the volunteer's geographic area requires service, and you provide your own transportation. Help is needed in many of the ZIP codes around Indianapolis. Register for this and other volunteer opportunities through the United Way of Marion County.

The Red Cross in Indianapolis needs volunteers for a variety of tasks, including serving meals to disaster victims, educating children about home fire safety, and helping soldiers travel home from overseas for the birth of a child. Red Cross volunteers teach CPR and assist in prepping for and recovering from disasters. They also need people to make speeches to groups and to design programs to recruit more volunteers. If you have these skills, call 888-684-1441, or email