10 Service Projects to Try at Home for MLK Day

Child shoveling snow. Little girl with spade clearing driveway after winter snowstorm. Kids clear path to house door after Christmas blizzard. Snowfall fun. Children play in cold frosty garden.

The observation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is designated as a national day of service. Kids can still make an impact from home this year, with options ranging from writing letters to nursing home residents to volunteering in the neighborhood.

Visit nationalservice.gov for service opportunities in your community. Let your kids get involved in how and why they’re being of service. Here are some service projects they can try on MLK Day.

Shovel snow or pick up trash

Help beautify your neighborhood with a trash pickup or shovel snow from the sidewalks and driveways of elderly neighbors.

Make blankets for children in hospitals

Head to Pinterest to find a pattern perfect for your kids to make no-sew blankets for kids in hospitals and homeless shelters. Contact your local organization for drop-off information.

Write letters

Let your kids pick a recipient — service members, front-line workers or elderly residents in your closest nursing home — to send letters and hand-drawn pictures.

Set up donations

Older kids can organize donations for homeless shelters, food pantries or animal shelters with porch pickup around the neighborhood. Have your kids create their own leaflets to distribute in your neighbor’s mailboxes with information.

Bake dog biscuits

If your kids are begging to get in the kitchen, they can follow this easy recipe to make dog biscuits for a nearby animal shelter. Let them pick out their own cookie cutters of dogs, bones or other fun shapes, then bag them up for donation.

Decorate kindness rocks

If your kids are artists, painters or just like to get messy, consider helping to decorate Kindness Rocks. Add sayings that MLK championed, like “Dream,” “Equality” and “Character.”

Run a penny drive

Collect unwanted pennies from your neighbors, family and friends to donate to a favorite charity, or to buy gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores for front-line workers.

Collect thank you notes

Instead of asking for money or donations in your neighborhood, ask neighbors to make thank you cards for first responders, then collect and drop them off at your local hospital.

More ideas

These resources can help connect you with local opportunities for volunteering or get you started with grassroots service groups in your neighborhood or school: Points of Light, Generation On, Project Giving Kids, AmeriCorps and the American Red Cross.


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Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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