How to Make MLK Day a Day “On”


Recognized as one of history’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work continues to inspire communities to come together and elevate doing good through service.

In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service. Every third Monday in January, good people across the country come together to lean into MLK’s legacy and observe the MLK Day of Service as a “day on,” rather than not a “day off.”

Our mission at VolunteerMatch is to build better communities by making it easier for people to connect to good causes. That’s why this year, we’re deepening our partnership with Starbucks to inspire you, our volunteers, to find a way to give back on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 21 and throughout the whole week.

Giving back to the communities it serves and using its scale for good has long stood as a pillar of Starbucks heritage. Starbucks partners (employees) have been participating in MLK Day of Service for over seven years and for the last two years, in partnership with VolunteerMatch, have expanded their service to be a week-long focus. This year, partners will participate in more than 200 projects alongside dozens of community organizations across the country.

Through the VolunteerMatch and Starbucks partnership, partners are able to create, find and join projects that are relevant and local to them and the neighborhoods they serve. In the last two years more than 18,000 partners have volunteered in over 8,500 projects across the US.

Last year, more than 1,500 Starbucks partners and customers engaged in their communities through a service project on or around MLK Day. This year we want to make an even bigger impact on our communities. Here are three ways to get involved with nonprofits in your community, and your local Starbucks baristas, this MLK Day and beyond.

1. Put your talents to practice with skilled volunteering.

To help fulfill their missions, nonprofits rely on support from volunteers year-round. That support can be in the form of single days of service, like MLK Day, or pro bono projects that tap into the talents of professionals.

The beginning of the year is a good opportunity to put the previous year’s learnings into practice for a nonprofit in need of your skills. If you’re a savvy communicator, offer to put together a communications plan. Or maybe you’re an accounting guru? Teach QuickBooks to women in business!

From photography to graphic design, the list of skills needed is expansive. You’ll even find local Starbucks baristas and store managers engaging with schools to provide workshops on customer service and hosting interview prep sessions!

This MLK Day, find a skilled volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch by using our Advanced Search tool, where you can search by skills you’d like to offer an organization and more.

2. Help protect and restore our environment.

Enjoy being outdoors? Or maybe you’re looking for a good reason to be?

With more than 5,000 ways to give back to the environment on VolunteerMatch, you can do your part to help protect our planet — from cleaning up San Diego’s beaches to restoring wetlands and urban orchards in Seattle.

You can even help collect compost for farmers in New Orleans or plant trees for local pollinators in Silicon Valley. The sky’s the limit (literally)!

You’ll see Starbucks partners doing projects to support those affected by the recent wildfires in California and restoring community gardens all over their cities.

While we know volunteering feels good, we now have data to prove its physical and emotional benefits. Our study with UnitedHealthcare found that three out of four adults feel physically healthier after volunteering, with nine in ten noting an improved mood.

3. Become a community leader.

Before his March on Washington, MLK’s movement for equality began at the local level — among his neighbors and community. Volunteering locally is a great way to meet new people, spark conversation and lean into MLK’s legacy.

This is one of the great things about VolunteerMatch and Starbucks teaming up — we are able to create relevant, local opportunities that impact thousands of people and invite partners and customers to not only share a cup of coffee but also share in a moment of impact in their neighborhood.

With more than 30,000 community-based volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved. One way you can give back, for example, is by taking part in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making competition at the Arc, an organization that promotes and protects the rights of people with disabilities.

If you’re looking for a virtual volunteer opportunity, you can support people in crisis by becoming a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line — an organization that provides free 24/7, nationwide support via text message to people in crisis, powered by counselors working from their computers across the country.

You can also help lead the future generation of Americans by teaching kids how to knit in Milwaukee, supporting financial literacy in California or spending time with youth at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

This MLK Day of Service, we hope you’ll make time by taking a day on — whether by leveraging your skills, your passion for the environment or by just spending precious time with your neighbors and local baristas. Then, help MLK’s legacy live on by inspiring others to do the same by sharing your story on social media using the hashtag #extrashotofgood.

If you’re a nonprofit or community service organization, we invite you to post an opportunity for MLK Day on VolunteerMatch and encourage you to feel an extra bit of warmth the next time you grab your Starbucks cup of coffee. Because together, we are inspiring the world, one neighborhood at a time!

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