Americans Mark King Day by Serving their Communities

Jan 18, 2010, 07:42 ET from The Corporation for National and Community Service

President, Cabinet Secretaries, Elected Officials Make Holiday A Day On, Not a Day Off

WASHINGTON,  Jan. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The same spirit of compassion and generosity that has driven an extraordinary outpouring of support for Haitian relief will today be directed at tackling pressing problems at home, as hundreds of thousands of Americans will join in volunteer service projects across the country as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will join cabinet secretaries, elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, and Americans of all ages and backgrounds in rolling up their sleeves to honor Dr. King's legacy through service.  

The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that has led the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service since 1994, anticipates strong turnout across the country, with more than 10,000 service projects ( planned in all 50 states that will address a multitude of pressing social issues from poverty and hunger to homelessness and the dropout crisis.  Some organizations are using their projects to raise funds for relief organizations helping in Haitian recovery efforts.

"Today thousands of Americans will join their neighbors in the spirit of Dr. King's legacy to renew our nation's communities and help those most in need," said Nicola Goren, the Corporation's Acting CEO.  "Our hope is that people will make today the start of an ongoing commitment throughout the year to serve others."

President Obama called on all Americans ( to honor the slain civil rights leader by serving on the King Holiday, noting that, "In these challenging times, too many Americans face limited opportunities, but our capacity to support each other remains limitless."  The MLK Day of Service is part of the President's United We Serve ( initiative, a call to every American to make service a part of their daily lives.

Among the cabinet members serving are Attorney General Eric Holder, who will be preparing and sharing a meal with homeless people in Washington, DC; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who will be clearing a blighted area in the nation's capital; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who will be participating in an H1N1 clinic, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who will join the Corporation's Acting CEO Nicola Goren and City Year AmeriCorps members in beautifying a Washington DC middle school.

A record number of national and state elected officials ( are participating in this year's MLK Day of Service by volunteering in their communities, issuing proclamations, and calling on their constituents to serve. Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors and other elected officials from both parties see MLK Day as a way to bring people together on needed community projects and to launch ongoing efforts to last throughout the year.

America's corporate community ( is also rallying for this year's MLK Day of Service, with major companies including Target, Shell Oil, Wal-Mart, Fed-Ex, The Home Deport, Motorola, Kaiser Permanente, Accenture, Allstate, and many others pitching in by sponsoring service projects, giving employees time off to serve, and offering financial support and expertise to nonprofit organizations.

A wide variety of projects are being planned in cities ( across the country including delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, reading to children, and more. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round civic action, such as signing up mentors or tutors or youth taking pledges of nonviolence. Below are some highlights:

  • More than 70,000 volunteers are expected to serve in over 1,000 projects throughout the greater Philadelphia area, the largest citywide King Day effort in the nation.
  • Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will use MLK Day to kick off the Cities of Service initiative. Projects including an outdoor soup kitchen and clothing distribution.
  • HandsOn Miami and Youth Service America are joining forces with 700 volunteers to revitalize Town Park Village, a public low-income housing facility.
  • A statewide project in Montana will benefit food pantries as individuals and organizations across the state collect food and help at local food banks.
  • The Points of Light Institute and its HandsOn Network will engage more than 100,000 volunteers in 1,500 projects that are expected to serve more than one million Americans, and will host a day-long virtual town hall ( featuring MLK interviews and service projects from seven cities.  
  • Youth Service America will engage more than 18,000 students across the country and will launch "Semester of Service" to encourage students to engage in service-learning starting on King Day and culminating on Global Youth Service Day.
  • At colleges across the U.S., Campus Kitchens will engage students and volunteers in leading hunger relief programs to share on-campus kitchen space, recover unused food from campus cafeterias, and deliver meals to low-income neighborhoods.
  • Service for Peace is organizing more than 300 projects taking place in 13 states and using the holiday to launch its 40 Days of Peace campaign.
  • The National Alliance for Faith and Justice is supporting more than 100 projects including food and clothing drives, reading to youth, recruiting mentors, and is organizing a March on Washington for Mentors and No Violence to occur in Washington DC on January 22.
  • Thousands of college students from 28 states will engage in King Day projects organized by Campus Compact, ranging from tutoring elementary students to helping seniors learn to use the Internet.
  • More than 2,000 middle and high school students will pledge to perform community service and leadership development activities through City Year's Young Heroes and City Heroes programs.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service:

In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. The Corporation for National and Community Service was designated as the lead federal agency to execute the King Day of Service. Participation has grown every year since its inception. The King Day of Service provides Americans the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through service to meet local and national needs. For more information, visit

The Corporation for National and Community Service:

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service each year through its core programs, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information about the Corporation, visit

Editors Note: Visit for real-time reports and photos from volunteers and project leaders across the country about the MLK Day of Service.

SOURCE The Corporation for National and Community Service