Martin Luther King Day of Service Opportunities in Philadelphia

This upcoming Monday, January 17th is Martin Luther King Day of Service. This holiday is celebrated on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and serves to commemorate his life and legacy. As a national day of service, it encourages all to volunteer in ways that will build upon his work and continue to help improve our communities.

The theme of 2022’s MLK Day of Service is “Combating Racism and Building Community,” with a focus on five specific issues: health justice, voting rights, gun violence, early literacy, and living-wage jobs. Below is your guide to in-person and virtual activities, as well as educational and cultural events in the Philly region. 

Crafting for MLK Day – Sat Jan 15, 10-2pm

Volunteers will join Sisters Interacting Through Stitches to crochet and knit items such as bonding squares, hats, blankets, and shawls/wraps, which will be donated to local Hospitals. This event will be held virtually and participants will discuss the day of service theme “Combating Racism and Building Community”.

Ya Fav Trashman MLK Day Clean Up – Jan 17, 9:45 a.m.

Join Terrill Haigler, Ya Fave Trashman, and Grant Blvd for a neighborhood clean-up at 3rd and Sumervile Ave. in the Onley section of the city. For more information follow Terrill’s Instagram.

Day of Service at Bartram’s Garden – Jan 17, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Help beautify one of the city’s historic landmarks with a two-hour service activity. Volunteers collect trash and debris from around the garden and sanitize pots in the greenhouse in preparation for spring planting at 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard.

Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity – Jan 17 9:30-1:30pm or 1pm-5pm

Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia is asking for volunteers to help assemble furniture at their ReStore on Washington Ave. They encourage volunteers to invite friends and family (16 years of age or older) for a half or full-day shift alongside some of our future and current Habitat homeowners. Volunteers will learn more about Habitat for Humanity while offering essential assistance toward our discount home improvement store, which allows more building and repair work in Philadelphia. In the middle of the day, they will also be inviting a special guest come to talk with volunteers about their experience with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia. For more information on volunteering, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website or email volunteer@habitatphiladelphia.com.

Philadelphia Orchestra Annual MLK Day Free Concert – Jan 17, 1pm

Attend this tribute to Black composers performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor at the Kimmel Center. The event is free but reservations are necessary. The concert will also be broadcast live on WRTI FM. 

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Image: Will Figg/The Philadelphia Orchestra

Day of Service in the Awbury Arboretum – Jan 17,  9-12

Help the historic park’s landscape crew keep some of the exotic invasive plant species in check. Register online and meet at Cope House. Water and a light snack will be provided. Please bring work gloves, hand pruners, or loppers, if you have them.

Poll Worker Info Session – Jan 17, 10am-11am

Join the Committee of Seventy and the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia to learn about what exactly poll workers do and how anyone age 17+ can serve on Election Day. Philadelphia always needs poll workers to serve in this important role and help your community make their voice heard. Sign up to learn more and get your questions answered.

MLK Day Events at Philly Museums – Jan 14-17

The Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street, presents a historical reenactment of abolitionist James Forten, a free Black Philadelphian and Revolutionary War veteran.

The African American Museum will host exciting events the entire weekend, starting on Friday, Jan. 14th. On Jan. 17th, they will have a day-long voter registration drive and memorial concert.

Visit the National Constitution Center — for free! — and enjoy readings of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, a family-friendly concert, storytelling, and arts and crafts. Guests can also perform an act of service and donate pens, pencils, crayons, copy paper, hand sanitizer, folders, and age-appropriate books to the museum’s school-supplies drive supporting the School District of Philadelphia. 

Whatever you choose to do, whether it is attending a virtual event from your home or volunteering in person, we hope you are inspired by Dr. King’s message of working towards a more equitable city and nation.