Although Martin Luther King Jr. Day may mean no school or work, it is deemed a “day on, not off.” The third Monday in January is designated as a national day of service commemorating King’s vision of peace.
On Jan. 20, local organizations and businesses in Bloomington will participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
This is a national service holiday that was put into law when Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994.
My Sister’s Closet, a nonprofit thrift store in Bloomington, invites individuals and groups to volunteer for two hour shifts from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. My Sister’s Closet has participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service since 2001.
Sandy Keller, executive director of My Sister’s Closet, counted 169 volunteers last year and said she expects a similar turnout this year.
Volunteers will assist in dozens different tasks at the store Keller said, including polishing shoes and purses, cleaning, waxing racks and steaming clothing.
Each hour, volunteers will commemorate King by reading of one of his quotes, Keller said.
“Everyone is asked to stop what they’re doing while a person reads the Martin Luther King quote, and usually everyone cheers,” Keller said.
She said My Sister’s Closet participates in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service because it aligns with the store’s mission.
“My Sister’s Closet’s mission is about moving people forward under their own power by giving them the tools and training so they can be self-sufficient,” Keller said. “This day of service is an opportunity to help other people that they'll probably never meet.”
IU’s Hilltop Garden, which is located north of campus, is also seeking volunteers for the day.
The garden will have volunteers prepare seed kits that will be used by teachers in Monroe, Lawrence, Greene, Owen and Brown counties to teach young students about plants and biology.
Volunteers will assemble growing trays and prepare packets of seeds and soil.
“By volunteering, people can help give back to the community and provide learning opportunities for the youth in Monroe and surrounding counties,” Hilltop's manager's Kaylie Scherer said.
Wheeler Mission Ministries, a non-profit organization that provides resources and services to people experiencing homelessness, invites volunteers to assist in painting projects on the day of service.This is Wheeler Mission’s second year participating.
The organization is repainting the entire Center for Men, a Wheeler Mission facility that offers emergency services and programming for addiction recovery.
Wheeler Mission’s community outreach coordinator Josie Rice said the center is looking for 40 volunteers to fill painting positions.
“Jobs like painting projects allow you to see the finished project," Rice said. "Which a lot of times in the work that we do, we don’t get to see the outcomes, so that’s something that can feel really good to finish.”
Rice said this is a great opportunity for students and community members to dedicate a few hours to serving others.
“It exemplifies the part of our mission of wanting people to become stewards in our community,” Rice said. “Our vision is to see people become productive citizens.”
More information about volunteer opportunities is available at the Bloomington Volunteer Network website.
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