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January 14, 2015

10 things to do for MLK Day

It's a day on, not a day off

Events Martin Luther King Day
01172015_ml_day_Bob_edit AP/Files

Dr. Martin Luther King civil rights leader testifying before the Senate Government Operations subcommittee, December 15, 1966.

Each year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, or MLK Day, greets weary winter workers and students with a free day. It may be a federal holiday, but the nation takes a day off so that we can volunteer in our communities in honor of the civil rights leader. As Dr. King once famously said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" So the motto for Monday, Jan. 19 is, "It's a day on, not a day off."

Philadelphia is brimming with opportunities to both celebrate Dr. King and to honor him with community service. Look below for ways to give back to your neighborhood or learn more about Dr. King's works with your family. 

Martin Luther King Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary 

Over three days, Eastern State Penitentiary will host live readings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by professional actors. The readings will occur three times each day and are followed up by an informal Q&A with a civil rights scholar. In partnership with Art Sanctuary, families can create art inspired by Dr. King and read stories about his legacy, too.

Saturday, January 17 through Monday, January 19
Times vary | Free admission; pre-registration required for readings
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave.
(215) 236-3300


Martin Luther King Jr. Family Celebration

Join the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the entire family can create art and enjoy mini pop-up tours of the museum's latest exhibit, "Represent: 200 Years of African American Art." Then, don't miss a special performance by the St. Thomas Gospel Choir. 

Sunday, January 18
10 a.m.- 3 p.m. | Free after museum admission
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
(215) 763-8100


Martin Luther King Day of Service at Rutgers-Camden

Open to students, faculty, alumni and members of the Camden community, this day of service begins at the Rutgers-Camden campus. Volunteers then travel on buses provided by the program to one of seven different volunteer projects that range from serving meals to replacing fencing at an historic site.

Monday, January 19
8 a.m.-1 p.m. | Registration required
Rutgers-Camden Campus Center
326 Penn St., Camden, N.J.
(856) 225-1766


Unitarian Society of Germantown Day of Service

The Unitarian Society of Germantown has organized a day full of volunteer opportunities. The day begins with a short remembrance of Dr. King and a worship service before volunteers split up into on-site and off-site projects. Many projects are great for families and young teens, and they include making soup for a local soup kitchen, cleaning up schools and letter-writing campaigns.

Monday, January 19
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. | Pre-registration recommended
Unitarian Society of Germantown
6511 Lincoln Drive
(215) 844-1157


Volunteer at Bartram's Garden

A morning volunteering at Bartram's Garden calls for dressing warmly for cold, outdoor conditions and helping the garden look its best. For this special contribution, volunteers receive a free lunch and T-shirt while supplies last. 

Monday, January 19
9 a.m.-noon | Registration required
Bartram's Garden
54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard
(215) 729-5281 


Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service 4th Annual Jobs and Opportunity Fair

Spend your day focusing on self-improvement by checking out new job opportunities in your community. Get career advice, attend workshops in two sessions and network. Representatives from the health care, retail and technology fields, as well as others, will be present.

Monday, January 19
9 a.m.-1 p.m. | Registration required
Hum Building at Girard College
2101 S. College Ave.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This family-friendly day of events includes a drop-in art project courtesy of Fleisher Art Memorial. Don't miss story time, spotlight talks, a musical performance and a showing of the PBS documentary series "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement (USA, 1986-1990)."

Monday, January 19
10 a.m.- 5 p.m. | Free admission
National Museum of American Jewish History
101 S. Independence Mall East
(215) 923-3811


Sharing the Heritage Celebration and Day of Service

The African American Museum in Philadelphia teams up with the Citizens Bank Foundation each year for a day of family activities, learning and service. Create arts and crafts in honor of equal rights and donate food for the ChAAMPs Against Hunger Philabundance Food Drive and books for Philadelphia Reads.

Monday, January 19
11 a.m.-5 p.m. | Free admission
The African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch St.
(215) 574-0380


MLK Tribute Concert

The Philadelphia Orchestra will honor Dr. King's memory with a special concert celebrating his achievements. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the orchestra in pieces like the traditional "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel” and Richard Smallwood's "Total Praise." 

Monday, January 19
1:30 p.m. | Free, but tickets are required
Girard College Chapel
2101 S. College Ave.  
(215) 787-2600


20th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service

If you're looking for a one-stop source for volunteer opportunities on this holiday, look no further than Global Citizen's database. Register to volunteer, browse the many projects that need an extra hand, sign up and get ready to do some good! 

Monday, January 19
All day
Global Citizen and MLK365
mlkdayofservice.org