For Kids Across the U.S., Martin Luther King Day Was Celebrated with Service

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed “life's most persistent and urgent question is 'What are you doing for others?'”

Today, we thank all the UNICEF Kid Power team members who answer that question every day by getting active to help malnourished kids around the world. We'd also want to give a special shoutout to kids and families who found all sorts of meaningful and creative ways to help others yesterday in Dr. King's memory.

Across the nation civic organizations and foundations mounted day-long events to honor Martin Luther King's legacy with public volunteer opportunities.

In Jackson, MI, hundreds of children, students and adults participated in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Legacy Service Project by doing community service projects in collaboration with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Katch-A-Kid, a foundation dedicated to providing guidance to at-risk youth.

At the Fall River, Mass., Boys & Girls Club, kids from the Mayor’s Youth Council, and the Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Club spent time writing letters to American troops stationed overseas.

“We’ve never really met,” wrote Castiel Reid, 15, who shared her letter with the Herald News, “but I want to thank you for all your hard work and all the sacrifices you’ve made.”

Helping people they’d never met but might have something in common with was how elementary students at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Multi-Cultural Center honored the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  The Center, which offers free after-school programming, job skills training and interpreting services, mobilized kids to make fleece scarves for community members who’re having a hard time making ends meet this winter.

The Multi-Cultural Center’s Christy Nicolaisen told KSFY News, "They know that this is going out to different agencies like our own ... that work with the homeless and those in a bad situation, to let them know that we care about you and these kiddos care about you too."

Though organizations like VolunteerMatch.org, made it easy yesterday — or any day of the week — to find a local initiative to join, some like Hunter Firsching and his best friend Chris Ibbetson spent their day of service giving back to their neighbors. With snow aplenty in their Wichita, Kan., neighborhood, the boys grabbed shovels and went door-to-door to see who needed a walk or driveway cleared.

“Yea, the community just does so much for me so I wanted to give back,” Hunter told KSN.com. When the local NBC affiliate reporters caught up with them they’d already cleared snow in front of 10 homes. “We both like helping people so this just seemed like a good idea.”

For more ideas on how to give back in your community throughout the year, check out our National Volunteer Week post on ways to make a difference and try some of our eco friendly tips for getting active. No. 1 is, of course, always wear your UNICEF Kid Power Band so you can supersize your impact! 

Photo from Flickr courtesy of the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s partner organization, Seward Park Audubon Center, which in 2016 hosted a United Way MLK Day of Service project for 73 volunteers at Seward Park, who helped with restoration work in Seward Park’s greenspaces.