Every year, Americans celebrate one of our greatest agents of positive change, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., with a federal holiday in his honor on the third Monday of January. And to truly honor King’s legacy of compassion and reform, the holiday has evolved from a “day off” to a “day on,” with hundreds of thousands of volunteers from across the country coming together to give back to their communities through a myriad of service projects.
For 19 years, United Way Hands On (formerly Hands On Birmingham), the volunteer center of United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), has been among the many organizations offering opportunities to get involved in projects throughout Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. With the Greater Birmingham area recently having been identified as one of the most charitable metros in the nation, it’s no surprise that Hands On projects bring out thousands of volunteers year after year.
The 2019 festivities included more than 1,110 individuals coming together for projects at 25 different sites. Committed community partner Honda Manufacturing of Alabama sponsored a project at the Collegeville Community Center, which included activities such as painting the gymnasium and classroom, deep cleaning the bathrooms and classroom area, removing scuff marks from the gym floor and minor yard work. Volunteers from Honda were joined by other community members from the Carver High basketball team, the Carver High Alumni Association and the City of Birmingham, as well as student groups from the University of Connecticut and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. For Honda Project Manager Kenneth Peterson, seeing so many people come together to impart positive change was truly special.
“It was such a great experience getting to give back to the community I grew up in,” he said. “The number of employees and volunteers who showed up for the project was amazing.”
Projects such as the Collegeville Community Center epitomize the United Way Hands On mission to connect people with organized, meaningful volunteer opportunities that fit into their busy schedules. So, this year, instead of just taking a day off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, resolve to take a day on…by getting hands on in your community. You can browse and register for 2020 MLK Day of Service opportunities (January 20, 2020) right here! Volunteerism is also a great team-building exercise—if you’d like to arrange something for your company, check out our Corporate Engagement page, where we can help you craft a volunteer experience that meets the needs of your crew.