As Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday approaches, it’s the perfect time to remember some of his philosophies and to live them to the best of your ability. An advocate for victims of injustice, the financially disadvantaged and African Americans equal rights, MLK was a living example of his own quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” It’s common to believe that the way you make an impact or leave a mark is by promoting your own profile and elevating your own status, but MLK is proof that taking care of others inherently lifts you up as well, as we still celebrate him over 50 years after his assassination.
Maybe you haven’t been as active as you’d like to be in giving back this year. Rather than lament that, think of another great MLK quote: “The time is always right to do what is right.” This MLK weekend, celebrate the powerful memory of this man through these acts of service.
Even if you don’t have the extra income to donate to non-profit organizations, you always have one thing to offer: time. Offer your time through volunteer work. Go to a local soup kitchen, shelter, homeless veteran’s association, women’s shelter or animal shelter and see if they need volunteers. Let friends and family know what you’re doing and ask them to join. Seeing you do it might inspire others to do the same. Post photos and videos from your time volunteering to encourage others to join in.
Arrange Entertainment For Veterans
Seek a local non-profit providing services to unhoused veterans and offer to arrange entertainment for them. Supplies like food and clothes are always useful, but a little entertainment can light up someone’s day and isn’t offered very often at these locations. If you have a talent like singing, standup comedy or playing an instrument, you can offer to be the entertainment. If you don’t have a talent like that, you can find friends or family who do who would be willing to perform and you can organize the event. Everyone appreciates the distraction and joy entertainment brings into their lives.
Bring Supplies To A Homeless Encampment
If there is a homeless encampment you pass by regularly that you’ve been meaning to take supplies to, do it now. You could pass by and ask the residents what items they need. There’s no pressure to get everything on their list – anything you can bring will be appreciated. Some items that are always useful include clean socks, clean underwear, drinking water, non-perishable food, blankets and hygiene products. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes are also very useful, as the unhoused don’t have access to sinks or showers. Sunscreen and hats are excellent as well, since the homeless might stand under the hot sun asking for money. One thing that is very useful is a map indicating where the nearest services and shelters are.
Clean Up A Littered Area
Every day you likely pass by a messy area in your neighborhood. It’s a stretch of the bike path near your home or a dead-end street that’s covered in trash. Old furniture was dumped and abandoned there months ago, and nobody has done anything about it. Take it upon yourself to address that corner. Put on gloves and a mask and go pick up the trash. Call the city to arrange a bulky item pick up for the furniture. This is one instance when you can actually see the difference you make. You can’t fix the whole world, but you can clean up one corner. If everybody picked a corner, the world would suddenly look much more beautiful.
Make Care Packages For Active Military
Everything military members receive while on duty is utilitarian. They don’t receive many comforts – if any. Send those little special items to light up their day and make them feel like they’re back at home. Packaged treats like candy and chips that aren’t available overseas can be a nice reminder of home. Certain hygiene items are useful because military personnel are often only issued limited amounts of items like deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and hand sanitizer. Entertainment items like magazines, books, decks of cards and crossword puzzles are also great items to send.
Offer Teaching Services At A Shelter
Certain shelters would like to offer their residents tutoring, job training and similar counseling services, but lack the personnel to do it. If there is a lucrative skill that you can teach, offer to do so at a local shelter. Maybe you can teach an actual trade, or you can teach someone how to perfect a resume or nail a job interview. Perhaps you can teach a course on how to use software that hiring parties use often. Perhaps you can teach a second language. Your knowledge is invaluable and there could be shelters that would love to have you share it with their residents.
Bring Smiles To A Women And Children’s Shelter
The lives of the women and children inside of these shelters can be so dark that it’s difficult to imagine what they’ve been through. They need someone to bring light into their lives more than anybody. Again, bringing supplies like women’s hygiene products and clothing is always good. That being said, if you can bring a smile to their faces with something a little special, it could make their year. Provide entertainment. Bring baked goods. Bring in an emotional support animal. Offer to redecorate and spruce up a common area.
Help Out An Elderly Neighbor
Elderly individuals living alone often have dozens of house tasks piled up because they cannot handle them themselves. They’ve become too weak to lift certain items or struggle to see some things. If you’ve noticed an elderly neighbor’s home falling apart a bit, offer to help out. Do some yard work. Fix things in the home for them. Clear out a cluttered garage. Paint their fence. Simply popping by and asking if there’s anything they’d need help with would mean a lot to them. They might be too proud to reach out for help on their own.