MLK Day of Service: What is it and how to get involved

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday comes the third Monday of January, the day is not just a day off of work, but has become a day for people to volunteer and serve their community. Here is some information on the holiday.

What is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service?

According to The Corporation for National and Community Service, legislation made King's birthday a national holiday in 1983. In 1994, Congress designated the federal holiday as a national day of service. It is the only federal holiday with such a designation.

Why is this holiday a service day?

"The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems," the CNCS website says. The King Center outlines the Triple Evils, poverty, racism and militarism, as barriers toward the Beloved Community, which was coined by philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

King was also a member of the fellowship and pushed the term into the mainstream. King has described the Beloved Community as the end goal of protests and boycotts, in which the Triple Evils would not exist and good would prevail over them.

What type of service is done on this day?

Any form of service that makes efforts toward King's Beloved Community is encouraged. It could "meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit," according to the CNCS. Services include but are not limited to delivering meals, building homes for those in need, helping others with financial literacy skills and collecting food and clothing.

How can people get involved?

The CNCS has a website where people interested in participating can find volunteer opportunities in their area at People can also plan their own volunteer opportunities and register them as an MLK Day event at the National Service website.