Monday marks 5 years since President Obama first called on Americans to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as a national Day of Service, rather than as simply a day off.
King Jr.'s birthday is on Sunday, but the holiday will fall on Monday. We offer a few ways to serve around the L.A. region this year:
Get breakfast with Big Sunday and help them sort clothes for the needy
Don't let the volunteer organization's name fool you, Big Sunday will be holding its MLK Jr. Day event on Monday at 9 am. They need help sorting, folding and counting thousands of items of clothes for the needy they received in their drive for the past several weeks (last minute donations are welcome as well!).
"We've been doing this for a long time, and everybody wants to help," founder and executive director David Levinson told KPCC. "Everybody wants to feel like they can give back. here at Big Sunday, often the people who are being helped come and help as well, because we blur the lines between who's helping and being helped."
Last year, the group rounded up 20,000 items of clothing. This year, they'll have a free pancake breakfast for volunteers and music from the Motown-inspired Blue Breeze Band.
Beautify a beach, plant a garden or repair a mural in Long Beach
Long Beach has a series of projects planned for this MLK Jr. Day, and they all include a morning rally and free pancake breakfast at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, thanks to the city's fire department.
You can choose to help with a beach clean up near Bixby Par, restore the "We Are One" mural, revamp the garden or paint the playground equipment at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on 19th Street.
Help clean up downtown Watts
The Eastsiders Bike Club will hold a community clean-up of areas around Watts. The crew plans to clean from Wilmington Ave to Grape Ave and from 104th to 105th. Volunteers will be meeting up at The Watts Civic Center at 9 a.m. Monday.
Create care packages for L.A. area homeless LGBTQ youth
The Human Rights Campaign and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles are partnering to help gather and donate supplies for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in the L.A. area. They're asking for help rounding up all the items on their list. Volunteers will gather Monday to create care packages that they can then deliver.
Donate blood at a local hospital.
Donating blood at a local hospital is a simple way to volunteer on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is hosting a blood donation drive Monday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. January also happens to be National Blood Donor Month, so there are extra goodies for donors, including T shirts, a choice of a movie ticket or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift card
There are plenty of opportunities around the region. For more a full list, see the Corporation for National and Community Service's website.