2023 MLK Day of Service events in the DC region

Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on Monday, Jan. 16 this year — and in the spirit of the late civil rights leader, the weekend will be packed with opportunities for people to serve their communities.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, and charities and volunteer groups see it as the perfect way for people to come together and make a difference in their communities while honoring Dr. King’s legacy. There’s plenty to do, like volunteering for a community cleanup event or a beautification project, helping out at an area food bank or animal shelter, and helping out a fundraising event.



Websites like VolunteerMatch, AmeriCorps and FoodPantries.org are great ways to find events in your area — we’ll list a few highlights below.

DC

The Rock Creek Conservancy hosts a weekend full of events seeking volunteers for trail restoration, litter cleanup and invasive species removal. “Invasive plants are a major threat to our fragile forests, and stopping their spread helps allow for a thriving native understory,” the organization said.

Head to their website for more information, but you’ll want to be quick — events have limited space, and some are already full as of writing.

The District’s 42nd annual MLK Holiday Peace Walk and Parade will take place Monday morning — and organizers are looking for volunteers to help clean the streets afterward. Cleanup shifts are available between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday. Head here for more information. On the day of the event, you’ll be able to pick up supplies near the parade’s reviewing stand.

Serve DC seeks volunteers at the Arthur Capper Community Center to help with meal packing, preparing “Go Kits” for seniors and coat donations. Register online.

Maryland

Montgomery County lists three pages’ worth of volunteer and donation opportunities online throughout MLK Day weekend.

Highlights include making dog toys for animal shelters, preparing bikes for shipment to El Salvador, packing bags for children in foster care and outdoor trail cleanup. Not every event starts and ends on MLK Day, so if you aren’t free Monday, don’t despair — but keep in mind that some events have limited space and require you to register in advance.

Virginia

Kudzu is an invasive species of vine whose rapid growth threatens to overwhelm many of the region’s green spaces and hiking trails. Volunteers will be clearing a segment of the Mount Vernon Trail just north of Old Town Alexandria starting 10 a.m. Monday. According to the Eventbrite invite, work will involve using pruners and hauling away vegetation.

If you’d like to join, you’re asked to bring globes, pruners tools, long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Register here.

Volunteer Arlington offers a variety of opportunities to check out, including food collection, making cheer bundles, restocking food pantries and donation scavenger hunts. You’ll find a list of events on their website.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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