Thousands of Michiganders volunteer for MLK Day

MLK Day Volunteer 2018

Thousands of Michigan volunteers served in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Jan 13-15 and made significant contributions to communities across the state.

The Michigan Community Service Commission, with partners Michigan Nonprofit Association and Corporation for National and Community Service, supported 27 volunteer projects as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. These efforts engaged 3,000 volunteers, who dedicated nearly 10,000 volunteer hours to addressing problems such as hunger, homelessness, education, health, neighborhood stabilization and more. The contributions benefited over 90,000 Michigan residents.

In Flint, United Way of Genesee County helped to prepare over 80,000 nutritious meals for families in need. AmeriCorps members, youth from local school districts and college students all helped to double the impact of this project.

“We were originally planning on preparing 40,000 meals, but the number of volunteers kept growing and now we are planning on 80,000,” said Jamie Gaskin, CEO of United Way of Genesee County. “The willingness of the community to get involved and give back is inspiring.”

At Eastern Michigan University (EMU), 115 student volunteers spent the morning serving at one of 11 different organizations participating in the MLK event hosted by VISION, the volunteer center at EMU. Students collectively spent 345 hours serving at organizations like Food Gatherers, Habitat for Humanity, Ypsi Meals on Wheels and more.

About 50 residents volunteered at The Allen Neighborhood Center. They addressed the issues of food access and youth empowerment by distributing the agency’s newsletters, building garden boxes and building new signs for the Hunter Park Gardenhouse.

“One third of our volunteers are youth from the community,” said organizer Karalyn Grimes. “We focus on empowering the youth because they are our future.”

Other Michigan MLK Day highlights

  • Michigan's Campaign to End Homelessness AmeriCorps Program members led a Service Care Package Drive at the Salvation Army. A total of 60 volunteers put together dozens of care packages for individuals sleeping outdoors that will be distributed by professional homeless outreach staff in the Grand Rapids area.
  • In the Upper Peninsula, volunteers prepared and delivered 100 emergency kits to veterans, disabled persons and senior citizens through United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
  • More than 90 volunteers in Milford assembled 21,300 meals for the Kids Coalition Against Hunger.
  • Volunteers from the University of Michigan - Dearborn, Henry Ford College and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services prepared chicken mirepoix, fried potatoes and green beans with shallots in Zaman International's Culinary Arts Kitchen. These meals will be distributed to at least 15 female-headed households experiencing food insecurity in Southeast Michigan.
  • The Urban Neighborhood Initiative hosted two events in Detroit, cleaning up the community and packing bags of seeds for Keep it Growing Detroit.
  • Mentoring and volunteerism came together through Mid-Michigan Big Brothers Big Sisters. Mentors and mentees volunteered to make blankets for those in need.
  • Through United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties, 15 preschool students from Carson City-Crystal Lower Elementary decorated 40 lunch bags that donated to IM Kids 3rd Meal, an organization that provides an after-school meal to children who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
  • The United Way of the Lakeshore hosted a Soup and Service event in Muskegon, featuring a donation drive for school supplies and non-perishable food items.

Thank you to our partners who also hosted events: NMU Volunteer Center, Boys and Girls Club of Alpena, Heart of West MI United Way, Barry County United Way, Salvation Army Social Service, Delta College, Midland Area Homes, King Ave PLUS, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, Tri-County Office on Aging, American Red Cross of U of M, B.A.S.S., New Vision Cathedral, Sisters Who Are Powerful, Urban Safety Program, VIP Mentoring and Wayne Metro Community Action Agency.

This collaborative effort was made possible by the Corporation for National and Community Service through the Volunteer Generation Fund and the Michigan Nonprofit Association. The partnership events served as part of the Michigan Community Service Commission’s National Days of Service program.  Michigan organizations can watch for opportunities to partner with the Michigan Community Service Commission for Global Youth Service Day 2018 in the coming weeks.  Follow the Michigan Community Service Commission on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for MCSC e-mail updates.