“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
During the holiday season, many organizations receive an overflow of donations. As we move into the new year, it’s easy to forget that there are many of our neighbors still in great need of services, food, clothing, and compassion.
Our everyday lives are busy and our plates are full and it can be hard to find time to give back. I am lucky to work for a company that encourages its employees to give back, provides paid volunteer hours, and volunteer opportunities onsite.
In celebration of MLK Jr. Day of Service, our offices will be closed. For the past few years, I’ve taken advantage of the volunteer opportunities Blue Cross NC’s offers on MLK Jr. Day of Service with the United Way of the Greater Triangle. Blue Cross NC has always encouraged and offered volunteer opportunities for our employees to “make it a day on and not a day off”.
A recent trip to our nation’s capital allowed me to reflect on the question MLK Jr. asked, “What are you doing for others?”
For those who are not as fortunate to have the opportunity through their jobs, here are some things you can do year-round to serve your community:
Got Books? Share your library
Donating your gently used books to organizations such as Book Harvest or your local Library can change lives. These organizations work to provide books in order to help increase literacy and access to low-income families. Consider helping a child learn to love reading by making a commitment to sweep through your personal library twice a year.
Purge your wardrobe, share the warmth and donate clothes
Do you or your family members have clothing they have outgrown? Take a few minutes and clean out those closets and dresser drawers to donate clothing to Note in the Pocket or to any local homeless shelter. Local statistics on homelessness are staggering. A News & Observer article reported that 2,736 Wake County Public School students were homeless in 2015. As our population grows, sadly so do these numbers. Donating clothing makes space in your closet and gives kids (and adults) the confidence they need to overcome challenges. A great outfit and a smile can move mountains, don’t you agree?
Stand Up Against Hunger
Time to clean out the pantry. Grab those extra cans and donate them to the local food bank such as Central and Eastern NC Food Bank. Help food banks end hunger and provide food to those less fortunate and agencies across the state providing services to the local community. According to its website, NC has several cities with some of the highest levels of food insecurity in the nation: Greensboro, HighPoint, and Winston-Salem. 81% of NC households receiving food assistance don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Let that sink in…
Opportunities for Service
If you have time to give, that is wonderful. It doesn’t have to be a long stretch, an hour is plenty, if you are doing what you love. If you haven’t committed to a #MLKserviceday project yet, there is still time. Visit https://www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday for local opportunities in your community.