Americans Make 2010 King Holiday a Day On, Not a Day Off

Jan 25, 2010

Hundreds of Thousands Serve in More than 10,000 Projects

Hundreds of thousands of Americans joined in volunteer service projects across the country as part of the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined cabinet secretaries, elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, and Americans of all ages and backgrounds in rolling up their sleeves to honor Dr. King's legacy through service. More than 10,000 service projects took place in all 50 states, addressing a multitude of pressing social issues from poverty and hunger to homelessness and the Haitian crisis.

Americans made it a “a day on, not a day off” by delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, reading to children, providing employment counseling, and more. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round civic action. The King Day of Service is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the King Center in partnership with nonprofit, education, business, and other organizations around the country.

While the 2010 King Day has passed, our work is ongoing. Fulfilling Dr. King's dream and making America “what it ought to be” will take a large-scale, long-term commitment. Americans are encouraged to continue working toward King's dream by becoming a mentor, promoting nonviolence, engaging in a Semester of Service, joining a national service program, or finding a volunteer opportunity in your community. For more information, visit



  • More than 10,000 projects in all 50 states engaged hundreds of thousands of Americans in service to meet local needs
  • Strong Administration participation including President Obama and 10 Cabinet Secretaries or senior Administration officials
  • Record participation by elected officials including 11 Members of Congress, nine Governors, and more than 30 Mayors
  • Unprecedented corporate support from major US companies that supported projects with funding and volunteers
  • More than 30 civil rights leaders, public officials, entertainers, and athletes served as MLK Day of Service Ambassadors
  • Created on online campaign with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google to promote participation in MLK Day
  • Launched MLK Day Tech Challenge with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Extensive media coverage including PSAs, radio media tour, and coverage reaching more than 100 million Americans


Below are some highlights of 2010 King Day. Please note that this is a small set of highlights based on preliminary reporting:

Community Renewal

  • Volunteer New Hampshire, United Ways of NH, Senior Corps, and AmeriCorps collected more than 3,000 pounds of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items during the statewide MLK Food Drive. Through the committed efforts of New Hampshire's volunteers, 64 sites in 35 towns throughout the state were organized as public drop-offs for food donations.
  • In Buffalo, N.Y., nearly 400 volunteers joined Western New York AmeriCorps in an “Extreme Makeover” of bedrooms for two local foster children, completing repairs at the non-profit Broadway Market, and collecting donations of toiletries to create “welcome packages” for victims of domestic violence at Haven House.
  • The University of Nebraska at Omaha Service Learning Academy and Campus Kitchens were joined by the Mayor of Omaha and the UNO Chancellor in serving 371 meals at South Omaha Boys and Girls Club and Turning Point. Recipients were also engaged in service learning projects at these locations.
  • From January 16-18, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) sponsored its Seventh Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Anti-Hunger “Serve-a-Thon” featuring more than 450 volunteers who served 1,500 hours at 30 sites, including actress and MLK Ambassador Tracee Ellis Ross.

Haiti Relief

  • In Washington, DC, more than 1,000 people converged on the DC General Warehouse, sorting and processing 2,000 boxes and bags of items collected at the Haitian Embassy in their supply drive.
  • In Queens, NY volunteers engaged in local projects which included joining with Assemblywoman Grace Meng's office to raise “One Million Pennies - Change for Haiti Drive.” The drive resulted in more than $1,000 for Haiti in addition to hundreds of pounds of food and supplies.

Safety and Security

  • HOPE worldwide chapters hosted 105 service sites across the United States, with 13,000 volunteers giving 53,000 volunteer hours and serving 149,077 people. In the Fire Preparedness Reach Out program, more than 40 Chapters of HOPE worldwide canvassed in low income, fire vulnerable neighborhoods alongside Red Cross volunteers, talking about fire safety and emergency planning and installing new smoke detectors for families who needed them.
  • In Shiprock, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation's Foster Grandparents supported a family coping with the death of five year old MacKendra Norberto, who died in a house fire. Foster Grandparents gathered blankets, towels, personal hygiene necessities, pots, pans, kitchen utensils and other household items.


  • At the Shalom Community Center in Bloomington, Ind., 100 children were offered an array of health screenings including lead, developmental screening for young children, dental screening, cleaning, and fluoride, speech, hearing, spinal, H1N1 immunizations. In addition, the Salvation Army provided 52 individuals vision screening and fitting for eye glasses.
  • In Folsom, La., a group of 12 young people organized a Youth Health Cabinet at the Midway Church of Christ (Holiness). This group learned about child and youth obesity. The health cabinet will meet over the next 10 weeks to formulate a plan to share this information to their peers in a Youth Health Day, which will occur the weekend of April 23-25, 2010.


  • In Torrance, Calif., 500 teens from 15 high schools planned and implemented a day of “Seeing Our Future” with the help of the Volunteer Center Youth Coalition and Peace4Kids. Professionals and high school teachers taught foster youth about different career options and the importance of education and hosted college prep and financial aid workshops.
  • In New Jersey, volunteers kicked off a semester of service by organizing multiple book drives. Twenty-four Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations throughout New Jersey accepted employee and customer book donations in the two weeks leading up to MLK Day. Over MLK Weekend, volunteers brought books to 4 New Jersey After 3 after-school programs. Volunteers will continue to serve by launching a "Speak Out & Listen Up" campaign -- a 13 week long curriculum that will allow 4,500 students and 2,000 family and community members in the New Jersey After 3 network to reflect on the teachings of Dr. King
  • In Detroit, 800 volunteers painted murals, sorted and packed donated goods, and completed various beautification projects at 15 locations throughout metro Detroit organized by City Year Detroit and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Energy and Environment

  • In Greensboro, N.C., 250 student volunteers from NC A&T University, UNCG, Bennett College & Greensboro College, came together to retrofit homes in a low-income neighborhood in Greensboro with compact fluorescent bulbs donated by The Home Depot in an effort to both raise awareness about environmental impact & also help residents save money on their electricity bill. The efforts of these volunteers will help to save the neighborhood over $60,000 in energy costs.
  • In Tampa, Fla., more than 1,000 students from the University of Southern Florida (UCF) in partnership with Service For Peace participated with the Mayors Beautification Program focusing on park restoration and other beautification projects across Tampa Bay. Post King Day UCF students and the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement (CLCE) has committed to adopting a park and a bay to maintain throughout the year.
  • AmeriCorps NCCC members and Groundwork Denver volunteers went door to door in Denver's Whittier neighborhood to change out light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, and sign up people for recycling, free weatherization and street trees. The effort is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 100 tons a year.

City-Wide Projects

  • More than 70,000 volunteers served in 1,000 projects in 15th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest in the country.
  • In Washington D.C. more than 30,000 residents were expected to participate in more than 200 projects including an outdoor soup kitchen, clothing distribution, preparing meals for homeless shelters, job-shadowing, and school beautification projects.
  • More than 3,000 volunteers served throughout Chicago in family shelters, schools, senior centers, social service agencies, and local parks, including 1,5000 students.
  • HandsOn Birmingham sent 2,000 volunteers to support more than 40 nonprofit agencies in efforts including visiting nursing home residents, participating in a blitz build with Habitat for Humanity, serving meals, and planting trees.

Pro Bono Service

  • Accenture employees put their professional skills to work on King Day in a pro bono project with the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Accenture employees from the federal practice joined with the employees of the museum to develop a vision and plan for updating the museum's web presence for maximum exposure and learning.
  • Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians in California provided health screenings during the San Gabriel Valley NAACP's Martin Luther King Day Informational Fair, while employees in Hawaii supported healthy eating and active living in local schools by planting sustainable crops.
  • ARAMARK culinary experts provided cooking and nutrition demonstrations for 3,000 local residents


The organizing backbone of the 2010 King Day of Service Day was the Corporation's King Day of Service grantees. Below is anticipated or preliminary data from the six grantees.

  • Service For Peace and its partners engaged 16,600 volunteers in 284 projects, contributing 68,000 hours of service in nonviolence, literacy, poverty, financial education, environment, peace, beautification, and health projects. An additional 14,000 volunteers will be engaged in their ongoing 40 Days of Peace campaign
  • The Points of Light Institute and its HandsOn Network brought together more than 100,000 people to serve in 1,500 projects, and hosted an all day MLK Day Virtual Town Hall.
  • The National Alliance for Faith and Justice engaged more than 150, 000 volunteers and participants in 147 projects across the country aimed at recruiting mentors, reducing youth violence, and helping young people succeed.
  • Campus Kitchens engaged hundreds of college students and volunteers in leading hunger relief programs in 13 states across the US, including create new Campus Kitchens, building community gardens and assist hunger programs
  • North Carolina Campus Compact expected to mobilize more than 16,000 college students from across the country to engage in service projects, ranging from neighborhood clean-ups to preparing and serving meals to hospice patients.
  • Youth Service America worked with schools across the country to use MLK Day to launch Semester of Service, a service-learning framework where students apply classroom learning to addressing a critical need in the community.


To honor Dr. King's life and legacy, President and Mrs. Obama, and 10 Cabinet Secretaries and senior Administration officials participated in community service projects in Washington, DC. The President, First Lady and their family visited So Others Might Eat, where they served food to homeless and hungry men, women and children. Other federal officials who served include Cabinet Secretaries Tim Geithner (Treasury), Eric Holder (Justice), Ken Salazar (Interior), Kathleen Sebelius (Health and Human Services), Ray LaHood (Transportation), Arne Duncan (Education), Eric Shinseki (Veterans), John Jarvis, (National Park Service), Chair Nancy Sutley (Council on Environmental Quality), Aaron Williams (Peace Corps), and Corporation Board members Laysha Ward, Stan Soloway, and Acting CEO Nicola Goren. Click here to see how these officials served.


A record number of elected officials on the federal, state, and local level from both parties participated in the 2010 MLK Day of Service this year by volunteering in their communities and calling on their constituents to serve. At least 11 Members of Congress, nine Governors, and 30 Mayors honored Dr. King by promoting the day or rolling up their sleeves to serve in volunteer projects. Click here for more about how elected officials helped make it a day on, not a day off.


Other national partners include AARP, After-School All-Stars, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Red Cross, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, America's Promise, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Breakthrough Collaborative, Causecast, City Year, The Corps Network, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, HOPE worldwide, the King Memorial Foundation, Lutheran Services in America, MENTOR, National Marrow Donor Program, Safe Places, ServiceNation, Student Conservation Association, Truist, United Way of America, VolunteerMatch, YouthBuild, and Youth Service America.


A record number of companies supported the 2010 King Day of Service by providing project funding, organizing projects for employees, and allowing employees time off to take part in activities. Major companies participating or supporting the MLK Day of Service included Accenture, Allstate, ARAMARK, BET, Capital One, Eli Lilly and Company, Fed-Ed, Kaiser Permanente, Motorola, MTV, Radio One, Shell Oil Company, Target, Twitter, and Wal-Mart. Click here to read how these and other companies supported the 2010 MLK Day of Service.


The 2010 King Day of Service received extensive national, regional, and local media coverage including 25 national print outlets, national broadcast mentions including CNN, MSNBC and NPR, and more than 1,400 broadcast stories and 350 print articles. The Corporation's radio media tour for King Center CEO Isaac Newton Farris yielded 26 interviews airing on 7,427 stations reaching 27.3 million listeners. The Corporation's King Day radio PSAs aired more than 26,000 times reaching 93 million listeners in the month leading up to King Day. Visit National Service in the News for links to more than 350 news stories.


The Corporation established media partnerships with to promote the MLK Day of Service. Radio One provide dedicated website promotion in all its 52 markets and encouraged stations to play the MLK Day radio PSAs. BET made a company-wide call for its employees to volunteer and encouraged its viewers to serve by highlighting the day on 106 & Park and its news programs. MTV used MLK Day to premiere “The Buried Life,” a documentary series that follows as four friends travel across the country to pursue their aspirations and work to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. The show's cast spent MLK Day volunteering in Los Angeles. MTV also connected viewers to volunteer opportunities through



This year the Corporation significantly expanded its MLK Day of Service Ambassadors program, tapping more than 30 national leaders including civil rights icons, academics, professional athletes, and entertainers. The Ambassadors exhibit an ongoing commitment to service and volunteering, and believe that service can move our nation one step closer to realizing Dr. King's dream. U.S. Representative John Lewis, Usher, Ed Norton, Emmitt Smith and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond were named among others as 2010 MLK Day Ambassadors. These individuals promoted MLK Day to a broad audience, and some marked the King Holiday by volunteering in local service projects. Click here to see a full list.


In 2010 the Corporation fully integrated social media into all aspects of the 2010 MLK Day of Service. Twitter featured the MLK Day of Service on its blog and official twitter stream with 2.8 million followers, and co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams tweeted their millions of followers, encouraging them to answer Dr. King's call to service. Across the country, volunteers shared their pictures, videos and stories using the #MLKDay hashtag, and hundreds of volunteers shared their stories of service on Working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Corporation launched the MLK Tech Challenge which paired schools with tech needs to web professionals.


“Dr. King dedicated his life to advancing social justice and equal opportunity for all. But more than forty years after his death, there is still much work left to be done. Through service, we honor his legacy by helping our neighbors, strengthening our communities and meeting the challenges we face together. I encourage all Americans to not only continue Dr. King's work through service today, but to make service a part of your lives every day.”
President Obama

“I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor the heroic life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King than by serving one's community and fellow citizens.”
U.S. Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA)

“It is also fitting that while remembering his life and his contributions, that we commit ourselves to serving our communities – to becoming the change that we all wish to see in the world,”
U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

“Dr. Martin Luther King taught us that everyone, no matter who they are, has the power and ability to change their community through service. As we remember Dr. King this January, I encourage everyone, especially young people to become leaders in their community."
Usher Raymond IV

“Dr. King embodied the spirit of helping others and many North Carolinians are in need this year. I commend the AmeriCorps members who use this day of service to honor Dr. King's memory by serving their communities.
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue.

“Let us continue Dr. King's legacy by joining with family and neighbors to serve our communities. We need to teach our children, and each other, how to live the legacy of Dr. King not just one day a year, but everyday."
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa

This is an opportunity for all residents to join together in the spirit of Dr. King's legacy to help shape and transform this city through service. “We all need to roll up our sleeves on this holiday and work together to tackle the toughest problems facing our community—poverty, crime, homelessness and illiteracy.”
Jacksonville, FL, Mayor John Peyton

The 2011 King Day of Service will take place on January 17, 2011. We encourage you to get involved. For more information, visit

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