Fort McCoy News Jan. 12, 2018

MLK Day of Service offers chance

to help others, volunteer

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The national Martin Luther King Jr. observance for 2018 is Jan. 15. The observance also has become known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, during which people can go out to their communities and make a difference through volunteerism.

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission Extension Act, according to the Points of Light Foundation at www.pointsoflight.org.

"On MLK (Jr.) Day, Points of Light calls together its community of change makers to reflect on gains won during the Civil Rights Movement and to address contemporary issues facing our nation through act of volunteer service," the website states.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day graphic

Points of Light, as well as many other volunteer organizations, encourage Americans to go out into their communities for the day of service. Those organizations encourage widespread volunteerism that honors King's legacy. "Make it a day on, not a day off."

There are many ways to volunteer and serve communities, according to the organizers for the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, online at mlkdayofservice.org. First, people can create a project, such as a community building project, or something that can bring together the community and address pressing needs.

In supporting the day of service, the Philadelphia organizers say to "volunteer to take direct action, learn to expand your knowledge base, donate goods or funds to benefit others, advocate to inspire others, and connect to create a beloved community."

The United We Serve organization also offers some ideas on ways to serve in communities, including:

• Recruit and train volunteers to be mentors or tutors.

• Host discussions about King's life, teachings, and his principles of nonviolence and about community challenges and ways to address them.

• Provide job-readiness training in resume writing, interview skills, and dressing for success.

• Provide food assistance, such as bringing meals to homebound neighbors, organizing a food drive, or teaching healthy eating.

• Improve children's quality of life by building a playground or devising craft projects for children in hospitals.

• Beautify a community by removing graffiti from a building and painting a mural or reclaiming a park or abandoned space for community use.

In addition to the National Day of Service, any day of the year is a good time to help others, said Lorie Retzlaff, Fort McCoy's volunteer coordinator with Army Community Service of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"Fort McCoy community members looking for an opportunity to positively impact the installation's military community can do so by volunteering, which contributes in ways that have a lasting effect on the community's Soldiers, Families, and volunteers," Retzlaff said.

For more information about the National Day of Service, visit www.serve.gov or www.pointsoflight.org.

For more information about volunteering at Fort McCoy, call Army Community Service at 608-388-3505.