Each year, the third Monday in January is designated as MLK Day, the only federal holiday observed as a day of service. This holiday is meant to honor the commitment to service and community exemplified in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Across the nation, individuals and groups choose to make this "a day on, not a day off" by volunteering time normally spent at school or work to community projects.
One of the main concerns of Dr. King's life and work devoted to encouraging individuals to strengthen their communities by working together to reach a common goal. This January, area non-profits, businesses and other organizations are following Dr. King's example by encouraging the Cedar Rapids community to meet the needs of the hungry in our area.
Opportunities to Serve:
Participate in the Food Drive: Hunger knows every season. While many families receive food assistance over the holidays, donations tend to drop off afterwards. Help keep area food pantries stocked this winter by donating non-perishable food items for the food drive. Donations can be dropped off at Mount Mercy University, Busse Hall, 1330 Elmhurst Dr. NE; Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE; or United Way of East Central Iowa, 317 7th Ave. SE, between January 14 - 20. All donations will go to the HACAP food reservoir to support area food pantries.
Volunteer with Kids Against Hunger: The Mount Mercy chapter of Kids Against Hunger will be hosting a food packaging event on Monday, January 21, from 9:00 a.m. – noon in Betty Cherry Heritage Hall. Kids Against Hunger is a national organization, which works to address food security issues both in the United States and around the world. To help feed the most people possible, they rely on local chapters to package bulk food shipments that can then be sent directly to those most in need. Because they rely so heavily on donations and volunteers, they are able to supply nutritious and filling meals at about 23 cents each.
Take Part in the "What's Your 50?" Challenge: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is this: 'What are you doing for others?'" – Dr. Martin Luther King
The Martin Luther King Day of Service is not intended to be a one day only event. It is a reminder that creating a caring and supportive community means working to meet daily needs as well as finding long-term solutions for social problems and empowering individuals to take ownership of their role in those solutions. This is not something that happens overnight, but requires continual and thoughtful action.
Volunteer Iowa has put out a call to service for all Iowans, asking everyone to volunteer 50 hours this year to service. Although many Iowans currently volunteer a few hours a year, studies have shown that volunteers serving 50 hours a year not only saw greater personal benefit in serving, but actually created longer-term solutions for the problems in their communities.
To find volunteer opportunities in the area, visit www.unitedwayofeastcentraliowa.org.