Making A Difference on MLK Day

Florence AL WHNT19 News

Volunteers in Florence, Alabama (WHNT 19 News)


Martin Luther King Day is about service. His quote, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve,” has catalyzed service events in his honor. The Decoder collected examples of the events that took place across the country. Nearly all of these were reported on by local news, so check out the links for more info.


Florence, AL – University of North Alabama students packed over 30,000 meal bags at a food pantry. Alumni contributed funds to provide food. The meals will be distributed by UNA Food pantry.

Anchorage KTVA

Anchorage (KTVA)

Anchorage, AK – The Red Cross and Anchorage Fire Department teamed up to install free fire alarms across mobile home communities. Teams would go door-to-door, offering to install or check fire alarms. They left door hangers when nobody was home.

Key quote from KTVA: “It’s one of the most important aspects living in any home,” Captain Nick Davis with the Anchorage Fire Department said. “Elderly, children, people with special needs, if you’re sleeping at night, the only things that can wake you up are these smoke alarms.


Phoenix, AZ – Hands on Phoenix organized volunteer events across the city. Volunteer options included spending time at a local food bank or spending time with animals at a local shelter. Activities took place across the three day weekend.


Santa Rosa, CA – Several dozen volunteers in Santa Rosa cleaned up Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The clean-up, organized by Santa Rose Community Baptist Church, has the added benefit of servicing a community recovering from California’s wild fires.

Key quote from Press Democrat: “There’s something that happens when people work together,” said the Rev. Lee Turner, pastor of Community Baptist Church, which has been promoting “A Day On, Not a Day Off” events for about two decades. “There’s something that happens when they have to talk to each other, to do things together. They realize they are alike. It’s the diversity that Dr. Rev. King talked about that we’re experiencing. It’s all of that and more.”


Augusta, ME – Volunteers and AmeriCorps members sorted donations collected at local businesses. The event took place in Augusta Community Warming Center and served as an opportunity to bring community members together to package clothing, food and other items for distribution to those in need.

Key quote from “I love this group and I love the idea of serving the community and these people are here, on the ground, making things happen,” [Volunteer Pam Green] said.


Pikesville, MD – Sixteen volunteers cleaned and refurbished a home currently occupied by immigrant asylum seekers from Cameroon, Congo and Ethiopia. The volunteers were coordinated by the Pikesville Church and the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance (ERICA).

Key quote from The Baltimore Sun: “I’m retired, and I thought, I should do something,” said Perry, a Roland Park resident. “America is open to all people of all nationalities, and I think we need to welcome people. But I also do believe that there should be laws about when they come and how we follow through with them. … If they’re in the asylum program, they need support on their way to proper citizenship.”


Jackson, MI – Over 500 people gathered a community theater to receive volunteer assignments to 25 community locations. Projects included cleaning out storage areas at a local church and renovating community centers with new paint and drywall. The effort was organized by Spring Arbor University.



Montclair, NJ – The People’s Organization for Progress organized a rally to promote Dr. King’s ideals of justice and equality.


Bowling Green, OH – Bowling Green State University continued its tradition of aligning students with outside community groups. Over 800 students volunteered with 45 local organizations. Volunteering took place in homeless shelters, churches, and a food bank that serves cancer patients.

Key quote from The Toledo Blade: “It was important for me to figure out ways to do community service, especially on Dr. King’s birthday,” said BGSU freshman Morgan Thompson as she washed dishes.


Spartanburg, SC – United Way organized over 300 volunteers and 22 community projects on MLK Day. Projects included painting at a local community clinic, giving blood, collecting food donations, and trash clean up at a local park.

Key quote from “I love doing this. It’s just good to help out, especially in your own community because people struggle where you live,” [Brianna Fowler, local college student] said.


Black Hills, SD – Student groups from The School of Mines collected 3,780 pounds of food as well as $750 outside of grocery stores. The collections were donated to two local food banks.





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