2021 MLK Day of Service events in the DC region

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a great opportunity to get out of the house and volunteer to benefit the community, in the spirit of the man it honors — but in an unusual time, volunteering has a distinctly digital twist.

The list below contains some volunteer opportunities throughout the D.C. area on and around MLK Day, which is celebrated Monday, Jan. 18.

Virginia

Northern Virginia is full of opportunities for both in-person and virtual volunteering.

For one, the Center for Alexandria’s Children is teaming up with Volunteer Alexandria for an activity kit drive. If you have play dough, markers or glue sticks, or any of these other items you can drop them off between Tuesday and Friday at 123 N Alfred Street. They’ll be used to build kits for the group’s Learn & Playgroup program.

You can also build care packages for area households impacted by COVID-19 packets in a virtual donation drive at 1 p.m. on Monday. Participants will learn how to make laundry detergent from home. But it doesn’t end there: Volunteer Alexandria will also be holding virtual cardmaking at 3 p.m. with tips on how to create your own unique greeting for Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in the mood for hiking and don’t mind the cold, some popular Virginia parks are waiving entry fees Monday. Great Falls Park, Shenandoah National Park and Prince William Forest Park are all waiving their standard admission fees. It’s the first of six fee-free days across the nation’s parks this year, so if you can’t take advantage, don’t worry.

Want some fresh air closer to home while helping out? Ascend Alexandria is calling for volunteers to help clean South Reynolds Park on Monday, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Be aware that space is limited due to social distancing protocols, and there’s already a waiting list.

Maryland

Marylanders have ample opportunity to help out their community with food donations.

Small Things Matter’s Kokua Foods Program is looking for volunteers to help them purchase and bag rice or dry beans for food insecure families. Follow the directions on the group’s website for measuring and bagging, then head for drop-off locations in Takoma Park or Rockville on Friday or Saturday.

You can also learn to bake while helping the community: The Kokua Foods Program welcomes donations of baked treats to go along with the food staples they’ll be handing out for families in need. And as a bonus for Montgomery County middle and high school students, they’ll be able to earn SSL hours through both of the above events, too.

Love to write poetry? Got a knack for making collages? You’ll have chances to do both Monday, in a virtual session hosted by the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation. Collages will be virtually displayed and poetry read on Feb. 1.

And attention all toiler paper hoarders: Here’s your chance to redeem yourself. The New Creation AME Church in Fort Washington is hosting a food pantry supply drive now through Monday morning, calling for toilet paper and paper towel contributions.

DC

Feeling chatty? Join the DC Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative’s virtual phonebank, in which volunteers will text and call people who had previously expressed interest in serving as a tutor or mentor for one of 50 partner nonprofit organizations or schools. It’s 11 a.m. to 2 p. m. Monday via Zoom.

Education nonprofit City Year will again have its annual MLK Day of Service kickoff on Jan. 18, starting six weeks of digital winter service to support AmeriCorps members and their work.

Service projects will include decorating pencil pouches for students, flashcard preparation, canvas or tile painting and other projects to support local schools. A tax-deductible donation to City Year DC is required to secure a volunteer spot. Sign up here.

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