This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Jan. 15, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States joined their friends and neighbors to serve in their communities.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday honored every third Monday in January. In 1994, Congress passed a bill dedicating the day as a national day of service. The holiday recognizes the Rev. King’s legacy and calls people into public service.
Through the help of JustServe — a website and app where charitable and community organizations list their needs — volunteers were able to take part in service projects around them. Below are some examples of that service.
In Lewisville, Texas, JustServe volunteers took part in a clothing drive for New Beginnings Church.
Chevelle Davis Pridgett, who led the drive, said volunteers sorted and bagged hundreds of items of clothing.
“Pastor Joe Fields and members of his volunteer staff were so happy to receive our donation,” she said. “They serve so many people in the Lewisville community and the surrounding areas. It was great to tour their facility and see what they have to offer those in need.”
She said all the volunteers who showed up to help made the work fun. She thanked them and those who donated clothing to the cause.
“We could not have made this happen without you. … That’s what MLK Day of Service is all about.”
“We were able to create so much space on their shelves by restacking and reorganizing different items,” said Angela Johnson, a JustServe coordinator in Prosper.
Volunteers also served patrons, filled orders, loaded cars, and cleared space upstairs in the building to allow for future office space and extra storage.
“Everyone enjoyed the atmosphere there and delighted in the joy of service,” Johnson said.
In Paris, Texas, around 30 members of the Church and several members of the local NAACP gathered on Jan. 14 to clear trees and brush at Greenwood Cemetery.
The cemetery is an old and neglected African American cemetery with approximately 700 grave sites spanning across seven acres, explained a Facebook post about the service project. “There is still much clearing to be done, and the volunteers hope to be back soon and would like to invite other community members to join in the project,” said the post.
After the volunteers worked together for three hours at the cemetery, they joined together to eat a lunch provided by the NAACP.
In Hilton Head, South Carolina, JustServe volunteers cleaned up debris that a storm had scattered all over a local cemetery. The volunteers beautified the grounds together at Amelia White Cemetery, which is a historic Gullah cemetery — the Gullah are an African American ethnic group who predominantly live in the southeastern U.S.
In Leesburg, Virginia, volunteers and Latter-day Saints took part in a donation drive and brought canned food, hats, gloves, coats and scarves to a local elementary school as part of the county’s 33rd annual MLK celebration.
JustServe volunteers in Canton, Georgia, put together hundreds of plastic utensil kits for Must Ministries. The kits were in order to help the charitable organization serve meals to those facing food insecurity.
Around 300 volunteers in Gila Valley, Arizona, unloaded, sorted and delivered over 30,000 pounds of food and diapers to 10 local nonprofit organizations. The volunteers included Church members and full-time missionaries, in addition to people from The Way Church and Safford High School National Honor Society and the community.
Teenagers from a JustServe high school club in Indianapolis, Indiana, organized their own service project. The youth came from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith congregations and met together, planned and organized the effort.
The youth searched JustServe.org and selected Wheeler Mission Center for Women and Children for their project. The 22 volunteers served lunches to women in two shifts, took down Christmas decorations and put them away, moved tables, cleaned the gym floor, sanitized the children’s play area and other spring cleaning tasks.
Each youth invited a friend to join them for the service, so that they could all get to know more youth from different faiths while serving together in the community.
A Facebook post from JustServe Indiana said, “What a gift: helping hundreds and forging friendships all in one day. Our future is in great hands with these outstanding young adults.”