MEMPHIS, Tenn — "Care Like King": The annual MLK Days of Service is now underway leading into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, Monday, January 18. Every year, the event encourages Mid-Southerners to give back to their communities often through volunteering.
During a normal MLK Days of Service, which is hosted by Leadership Memphis' subgroup Volunteer Memphis, there would be more than 100 volunteer opportunities for people to partake in. This year, most of the events will be virtual.
This is Volunteer Memphis' 5th MLK Days of Service.
“So in five years we’ve been able to say that this is important and everyone takes this time to focus on doing things that can actually strengthen the community because when you think about "Care Like King", he was all about empowering the community to do more than it was capable of doing," Reggie Crenshaw, the interim president of Leadership Memphis, said.
Still, the weekend will offer a few in-person opportunities such as a community-wide blood drive on Friday from 10am-2pm at Methodist South Hospital. MLGW will also be out in the Douglas community distributing free energy kits. A few community clean up opportunities will also be happening.
Otherwise, most of the events will virtual meetings and webinars, largely focusing on equity issues in the community and volunteer opportunities. Some of the topics tackle, for example, putting a down payment on a home, saving for retirement and establishing and improving credit.
There will also be virtual interest meetings such as the African American History of Elmwood Cemetery.
Despite having to cancel so many in-person events this year, Leadership/Volunteer Memphis said interest in volunteering has gone up since the start of the pandemic. Crenshaw said it has opened the eyes for many people of the inequities that exist and the struggles of others.
“The equity issues we’ve seen around health, around education, around income," he said. "If you think about that, so many people are unemployed, so many people are experiencing adverse health conditions because of the pandemic. Education has been impacted. So, we’ve seen people who are realizing that these things are happening who are coming out and who are saying I want to be of assistance.”
Volunteer Memphis connects more than 36,000 volunteers in its database to 300 agencies year-round. Crenshaw encourages people to get involved in the events that are happening this weekend but year-round, as well.
Learn more about the MLK Days of Service, here.