Martin Luther King Jr. once said "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Since the initial observation of the national holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a consecrated day of continuing the activist's legacy and giving back to the community. Martin Luther King Jr. lived his life dedicated to service as a way to make our communities more equitable and fair for all. This day is not simply a day off from work but a day of reflection and to do good for others.

This MLK Day, look into these five ways to invest in your community and make a habit out of giving back.

Go Green:

Organize a small community clean up with friends and family and beautify small sections of your neighborhood. To be the change we want to see in our world, we have to clean up right outside our own doorstep. When we care about the state of our environment and take strides to improve these conditions little by little, we all will be better for it.

Do good and donate some:

If you are uncomfortable doing in-person service activities, no worries! Gather some non-perishable items or house supplies in good condition and donate them to your local domestic violence or homeless shelter. Shelters are reliant upon the support of community members and the resources they provide. Making these goods accessible to those who need it most is one of the most selfish acts one can do.

Connect With Those Who Are Less Fortunate:

Black people account for one of the largest demographics of those who are victim to the prison industrial complex. Consider donating to organizations like Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative, the Innocence Project or other local collectives who are committed to equality and better conditions for those who are imprisoned in America. Far too often, those who are subjected to incarceration fall into the underbelly of this country to be forgotten and thrown to the side. Taking out time to convene and listen to this individuals and see what they may need is also a good way to care for those who are most vulnerable in our society.

Foster the Minds of the Next Generation

The late Whitney Houston said it best when she sang the line "I believe the children are our future." Mentorship is one of the greatest ways to encourage a culture of empathy and service in young people. Whether you're reading to kids at a library via Zoom or starting a mentorship circle with high school seniors, seek out opportunities to connect and share your knowledge and life experience with others.

Get Hip to the Issues:

If you're feeling out of touch in your community, learn about issues that most impact it. Contact your local representatives to discuss ways to change your area for the better. To take it a step further, join a committee that aligns with your missions or create a small task force if the right organization is not in existence where you live.