Skip Sub Menu

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

The Drake community is encouraged to participate in an educational or volunteer activity to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.  All events listed are on Jan. 16, unless otherwise noted. Click the links to learn more.

10th Annual MLK Jr. Prayer Breakfast7:30-9:30am, Drake University Knapp Center. Presented by John R. Grubb YMCA. The theme of the 10th Annual Prayer Breakfast is The Quest for Environmental and Climate Justice. This event will gather various community residents, leaders, and agencies to join in fellowship through a dialogue on environmental justice in Iowa. Keynote will be delivered by Dr. Robert D. Bullard, a distinguished professor and award-winning author known as “The Father of Environmental Justice.”  Register in advance.

MLK Day of Service at CYCAll are invited to join for service projects at King Elementary (1849 Forest Ave, Des Moines) from 1-4 pm. Additionally, from 1:15-2:15pm, there will be a leadership workshop for middle school students, and from 2:45-3:45pm a leadership workshop for high school students.  Please RSVP using the link, CYC’s 2023 MLK Day Registration, or by emailing

Urban Dreams is holding an annual MLK Jr Day of Service from 9 am - 6 pm at their office, located at 601 Forest Ave. Activities include deep cleaning, sorting, packing, donating, writing notes, and more. Please contact Rachel Manna, for more information.

MLK Day Celebration: The Beloved Community: Hope + Elim will host an event from 11:30am-1pm to include worship, musical performances by Bridges to Harmony and Genesis Youth Foundation, and an inspiring message from guest speaker Sam Acho, an ESPN football analyst, nine-year NFL veteran, author, and ambassador to International Justice Mission. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable items to be shared with community members in need. To-go meals will be handed out as people leave. The event will be live-streamed. They will also host a Meals from the Heartland packaging event on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Multicultural Reception and West Des Moines MLK Day Celebration3:30-6pm at the MidAmerican Energy RecPlex. The Greater Des Moines Partnership will host a Multicultural Reception in partnership with the City of West Des Moines, the West Des Moines Human Rights Commission, West Des Moines Schools, West Des Moines Historical Society, Des Moines University, Polk County, Taste of the Junction, Meals from the Heartland and the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. The theme is “The Time is Always Right to Do Right,” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  The event will begin with a roundtable discussion from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. where attendees will have the opportunity to discuss a variety of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-related topics of importance to their organization and the community. A beverage and appetizer reception will begin at 4:15 p.m. with brief remarks around 4:30 p.m. and continue until 6 p.m. 

Forest Ave. Library MLK Day Celebration, 4-5pm at the Forest Ave. Library. Keynote speaker is community leader Jacquie Easley McGhee, the division director for health equity, diversity, and inclusion for MercyOne. She is also the health chair for the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and in 1990 became the first Black woman to serve on the Des Moines School Board. Live ASL interpretation will be onsite for the speakers, funded by the Forest Avenue Library Brick Fund. After introductions by Des Moines Public Library Director Susan A. Woody, Jacquie Easley McGhee will speak, followed by a Q-and-A session. Refreshments will be provided courtesy of the Forest Avenue Library Brick Fund.

Free Tours of the Jordan House Museum, Sunday, Jan. 15, 1-3pm. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, free tours of the historic Jordan House will be available. The Jordan House is a member of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.  There will be a book giveaway or “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” and “It Starts With Me.”

MLK Packaging event at Meals From the HeartlandVolunteer for a 90-minute shift between 9am-4:30pm to package meals for the hungry here in Iowa and around the world. Sign up in advance.

Undesign the Redline Exhibit – Take a virtual tour of this Polk County Housing Trust Fund exhibit, which provides background on federal policies started in the 1930s showing which neighborhoods were worthy of investment specifically due to the race, ethnicity, and class of residents. These policies had a profoundly negative social and economic impact on those living in “undesirable” neighborhoods, especially African American residents, that persist to this day.

Free Skating with Donations at Brenton Skating Rink, 12-9pm. Receive free admission to Brenton Skating Plaza with a food or clothing donation.  Donate non-perishable food items or adult-sized new socks. One item = one customer receives free admission. Two items = one customer receives free admission and free skate rental. Walk-up registration only. Donations will support Central Iowa Shelter and Services.

Take some time to educate yourself on a topic of racial justice. Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, and dialogue with others on what you've learned. 

Learn about additional volunteer opportunities at

Jan. 16, 2023 is the 28th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader's life and legacy. MLK Day of Service is observed the third Monday in January as a "day on, not a day off," and is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. 

Community News