Each year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to celebrate the sacrifices and incredible achievements of King as part of America’s civil rights movement—and an inspiration to continue his work today.
These days, his call to service is as important as ever. Even as social activity and in-person gatherings have been limited, there are still many ways to honor King’s legacy by giving a little bit of ourselves, both on MLK Day 2021 and beyond. To help you get started, here are seven inspirational quotes from King, along with some community service ideas to put King’s words, and his vision of social justice, into action.
“There comes a time when one must take a position… because his conscience tells him it is right.”
Social justice and community action are at the heart of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and life’s work. Have a cause you believe in? There are lots of ways to make your voice heard. Join a peaceful outdoor demonstration, call your local representatives, write letters, or volunteer with your local social justice organization.
2. Feed Others
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day…”
Lack of access to nutritious food is a significant problem in many low-income communities, and this challenge has only been exacerbated by COVID-19’s toll on the economy and employment. Feeding America estimates that around 50 million Americans faced food insecurity in 2020. Children, seniors, and those who can’t leave their homes because of safety concerns may especially need help accessing healthy meals. Food banks and other nonprofits are working hard to deliver meals to those in need, but they always need help from committed volunteers, as well as donations.
3. Support Environmental Justice
“Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.”
Environmental degradation doesn’t affect everyone equally. Communities of color and low-income communities often bear the brunt of environmental problems. Whether on a local or national level, getting involved with organizations that are committed to advancing environmental justice is an important way to support the health, safety, and prosperity of every community. Taking steps to support sustainability in your home and lifestyle can also play a valuable part.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.”
We can all benefit from personal guidance now and then. In times of increased isolation, which many kids and adults are facing today, one-on-one guidance can be especially crucial. From tutoring a student in an academic subject, to helping a coworker or member of your professional network, to simply being a great role model for someone who looks up to you, there are lots of ways you can help someone else on their journey.
Consider looking into youth mentorship, tutoring, or related opportunities to support someone else’s learning and growth. Even if you only connect virtually, your time and attention can make a huge difference for them.
5. Give Blood
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Demand for blood donations is at a critical level. If you feel well and meet the other eligibility requirements to give blood, make an appointment to donate at your local blood bank, such as the San Diego Blood Bank for our members in the San Diego area. Or, check with the American Red Cross to find blood drives in your area. Can’t donate? Encourage friends and family to donate or volunteer at a drive in your area.
6. Donate Money
“We are prone to judge success by… our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service…”
Both local and national nonprofits perform crucial work in support of social justice, and they depend on our donations. If you have the money to spare, give generously to the causes you care about, and follow these charity tips to help ensure your donation dollars have the greatest possible impact.
7. Be a Good Neighbor
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Check in with neighbors who are seniors or have health or mobility issues. See if you can lend a hand by running errands, doing yardwork, or helping in other socially distanced ways.
Here at USE Credit Union, we’re inspired by the work of Martin Luther King Jr., and by the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” We believe that joining together in service is key to building stronger communities. Learn more about how we’re working to serve our communities during COVID-19 and about some of the causes and organizations that we believe in.