About a year and a half ago, a parent in my kids’ school district called to tell me about Giving Fridays, an initiative she’d launched in her daughter’s elementary school. Each week, she set out bins to collect nonperishable food donations, and on Fridays, families could sign up to transport that week’s donations to a local food pantry. I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice as she described how the program had taken hold and sparked conversations within families about hunger and the importance of giving back. Now she wanted to expand the program to the elementary school where my own children attended. I loved the idea, but I was concerned about the weekly ask. I had helped organize several donation drives at the school in the past, and we tried to time our requests carefully to avoid donor fatigue. Would a weekly collection feel like too much? Hearing the hesitation in my voice, she said, “Even if you collect just one can of food, it’s one more can of food for someone in need. And one can is better than none.”
She was right. Some weeks, our Giving Friday bins overflow with food; other weeks, I’ll find just a can or two. But every week, we have something to offer, and every day those bins remind us of needs greater than our own.
This Monday is MLK Day, when we ALL have the opportunity give back in ways big and small—even virtually! It can be as simple as dropping off a few nonperishable items at your local food pantry . (No one’s keeping score here!)
Here are a few service opportunities around the Main Line this year:
• MLK Annual Day of Service & Children’s Clothing Drive
Help Cradles To Crayons assemble “I Have a Dream” packs, make cards for its Ready for Learning campaign or donate gently used clothing.
• MLK Day for Nature – 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM, Natural Lands Preserves (various locations). Spend the morning volunteering at a Natural Lands preserve. Help is needed throughout the region, including Stoneleigh, Bryn Coed, Stroud, Willisbrook, Binky Lee and ChesLen.
• Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service – Various locations. Choose from dozens of in-person and virtual service projects like food distribution, community cleanup and blanket making.
In the words of Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”