7 MLK Day of Service Opportunities in Pennsylvania

7 MLK Day of Service Opportunities throughout Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Franklin County

By Robin Shreeves

January 10, 2023

Pennsylvanians will have an opportunity to do for others by volunteering Monday as we honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Until his assassination in 1968, Dr. King spent his life doing for others. In 1983, fifteen years after his death, President Ronald Regan signed into law the third Monday in January as a federal holiday to honor the slain civil rights leader. Pennsylvania had a bit of a jump on the federal holiday, as then-Gov. Milton J. Shapp signed a state King Holiday into law in 1978.

Both at the state and federal level, MLK Day (as it’s often referred to) was envisioned as a way to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy. But, in 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, creating a dedicated day of volunteer service, encouraging those who have the federal holiday off of work to take that day and do something for others. 

This year’s Martin Luther King Day of Service falls on Monday, Jan. 16. And these 7 MLK Day of Service opportunities will give Pennsylvanians an opportunity to do for others by volunteering. 

Central Pennsylvania MLK Day of Service (Harrisburg and Surrounding Communities)

Held annually, the Central PA MLK Day of Service makes a difference in the surrounding community. The event’s website has opportunities for organizations to post their volunteer needs and also registration links for those who want to volunteer. There are 14 volunteer opportunities currently listed. Those who want to lend a helping hand have a variety of choices including: restocking a food bank, registering voters, or cleaning and repairing bicycles in Harrisburg; cleaning at the local library in Camp Hill; and a community clean-up in the Borough of New Cumberland.

Location: Dependent upon the volunteer opportunity chosen

Pack a Bag for Kids Facing Hardship (Richboro)

The Gigi Project and Yogamazia will pack 1,000 snack bags for those who need healthy snacks between meals and are experiencing hardship. Volunteers are needed on Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. to pack the bags that a separate organization will deliver to seniors, kids, and adults in the five-county Philadelphia region. They’ll also provide a table with supplies to color and write special notes to include in the snack bags. Registration is required. 

Location: 130 Almshouse Road, Unit 106, Richboro, Bucks County

YWCA MLK Day of Service Camp (Hanover)

An opportunity for students in grades 7 through 12, the YWCA Hanover’s Upstanders Youth Council invites youth to participate in a service project at the Guthrie Library Monday. The day starts at 8:30 a.m. with a light breakfast. Volunteers will then hear a guest speaker and participate in an activity before the YWCA transports them to the library for the project. After returning to the YWCA, they’ll have lunch before a 1 p.m. dismissal. Registration is required.

Location: 23 W. Chestnut St. Hanover, York County

6th Annual MLK Day of Service and Toiletry Drive (Media) 

7 MLK Day of Service Opportunities Throughout Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: Media Fellowship House

Media Fellowship House welcomes volunteers and donations for their toiletry drive on Monday from 1 to 4 p.m. They’re asking for donations of various toiletries, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, paper products, feminine hygiene products, and new bras, socks, and underwear that volunteers will organize and box. The boxes will go to one of six local organizations that help people in need. Registration is required.

Location: 302 S. Jackson St., Media, Delaware County 

Parkland Community Library’s MLK Day of Service (Allentown)

From 12 noon to 7 p.m. on Monday, anyone can stop by the Karen Tamerler Children’s Meeting room at the Parkland Community Library to make or decorate special cards. The cards will be delivered to local senior citizens in need of a smile. No registration is required.

Location: 4422 Walbert Ave., Allentown, Lehigh County

Franklin County 3rd Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service 

7 MLK Day of Service Opportunities Throughout Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: Franklin County

The Franklin County Coalition for Progress (FCCP) will host the 3rd Annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service on Monday. The day starts at 8 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast at the Franklin County Visitors Bureau followed by an opening presentation. At 9:30 a.m. volunteers will disperse to participate in service projects at various local organizations. Projects include cleaning at the Capitol Theatre Center, organizing and sorting at the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Thrift Store, painting and cleaning at the Franklin Co. Housing Authority in Waynesboro, and more. Registration is required. 

Location: 15 S. Main St., Chambersburg (Franklin County)

Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service (Philadelphia and Surrounding Counties)

The Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest King Day event in the nation, partners with Global Citizen to work year-round to promote volunteer service and civic engagement. Their website lists several volunteer opportunities on Monday including: community clean ups, Wissahickon Valley Park clean up, Wynnefield Library’s Sisters Interacting Through Stitches event to crochet or knit items to donate to those in need, a school and art supply drive, and more. Registration is required.

Location: Dependent upon the volunteer opportunity chosen

DIY MLK Day of Service Projects

If you want to participate in the 2023 MLK Day of Service in Pennsylvania but you haven’t found a volunteer event near you, create your own. Sign Up Genius has some 20 helpful ideas for doing it yourself or joining forces with friends and family to do things like volunteering at an animal shelter, collecting books and magazines to donate to prisons, jails, and shelters, or doing housework for an elderly neighbor.

READ MORE: 6 Must-See Covered Bridges to Visit Across Pennsylvania


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