How Do You Celebrate MLK Day at Home?

volunteers picking up trash in park

A Socially Distanced MLK Day

“An individual has not started to live until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individual list of concerns to the broader concerns of humanity.”
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 18th marks the 26th year that the US remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday. It’s the only federal holiday of its kind to be designated as “a day on, not a day off.” In keeping with his legacy, Dr. King’s daughter, Bernice King, reinforces the conviction that “you are important. You are significant and you have something that you can offer to make humanity a better place.”

In the past years, many Americans have offered in-person services to the world in commemoration of Dr. King’s legacy, however, considerations of COVID-19 will prohibit many of us from participating in such gatherings. In the spirit of offering whatever you have to give during the pandemic, below are some ideas on how to celebrate MLK Day at home without risking the health of yourself or your loved ones.

Reach out to friends and family to ask how you can support them this year

In spite of the continued uncertainty of COVID-19, many folks have embraced the spirit of a hopeful New Year. Whether it be a regimented fitness endeavor, commitment to a new hobby, a shift in priorities, or simply making an effort to break their routines, people are using MLK Day to start anew.

Consider reaching out to friends to ask what you can do to help them meet their goals. You could offer a daily supportive text, cook the occasional meal, or join them over the phone for a moment of prayer or meditation. Serving others can often make us just as happy as serving ourselves.


While organizations and churches may not be hosting in-person service projects this year, most are still accepting donations. During these cold days of the year, you may consider providing warm clothes to our most vulnerable neighbors. You could bring new or gently used coats and blankets to a local center. If you are an animal lover, consider dropping off blankets for your furry friends at the shelter.

In addition, countless non-profits and charitable organizations operate with a specific purpose. These organizations offer invaluable support to the community and provide opportunities for you to contribute to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. With your extra day “on,” not “off,” consider finding something you’re especially passionate about and donating or pledging a monthly commitment for the uncertain year ahead.

Cook a meal for a someone

Whether it’s for a stranger or a loved one, cooking a home-cooked meal is a hearty (and tasty) way to care for someone. Go above and beyond to serve someone by asking them what they are craving the most and even consider throwing in a scrumptious dessert. Click here for some casserole ideas from Southern Living to feed the whole crew.

Sign up to be a foster pet parent

According to the Atlanta Humane Society’s website, “foster caregivers provide temporary care for cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies in their own homes.” A couple of orientations occur each month, and the next one on January 24th will inform you about becoming a caregiver. Since volunteering in-person with other people could potentially be too risky, perhaps helping out a four-legged friend is presently more suitable!

Pick up trash

This could be as simple as walking down your street or heading to your favorite hike spot and bringing along a trash bag. Picking up trash is simple and low-maintenance but will greatly benefit the community at large. No organization is necessary.

Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you

This is an age-old trick for instantly brightening a coffee drinker’s day. Pro tip: Make sure the person behind you isn’t picking up an order for 15 people unless you want to treat the whole gang to some fresh brew!

Listen to one of MLK’s recorded speeches

The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute of Stanford University has an archive of many of Dr. King’s speeches and sermons. The marvel of modern technology allows us to listen to his timeless messages decades later and reflect on past progress and work that has yet to be done.

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