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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. 15, 2024. All events listed are on Jan. 15, unless otherwise noted. Click the links to learn more. 

11th Annual MLK Jr. Prayer Breakfast7:30-9:30am, Drake University Knapp Center. Presented by John R. Grubb YMCA. The theme of the 11th Annual Prayer Breakfast is  Building Health in Spirit, Mind and Body: Addressing Barriers to Mental Health Equity. This event will gather various community residents, leaders, and agencies to join in fellowship through dialogue. Chamique Holdsclaw, WNBA Hall of Fame member and Olympic gold medalist, who has dedicated her life’s work to mental health and wellness activism, is the keynote speaker. The event will also feature the presentation of the Make A Difference Awards. Tickets required in advance. 

Grand View University MLK Week of Service Keynote – Abena Sankofa Imhotep will be the keynote speaker at noon in the Viking Theater at Grand View University. Imhotep is an award-winning author, transformative thought leader, and CEO of Sankofa Literary & Empowerment Group, which creates spaces for lifelong learning that center the literature and scholarship of Black authors. She is a TEDx speaker, serves on several boards of directors, and is a student of International Relations at Drake University.   

Community Youth Concepts MLK Day of ServiceAll are invited to join for student-led service projects at King Elementary (1849 Forest Ave, Des Moines) from 1-3 pm. This is a come and go event and all ages are welcome. Additionally, there will be portable Stowe Heights activities for everyone to get engaged and build on their skills. RSVP here or by emailing 

Urban Dreams MLK Day of Service – Grab colleagues, friends and family to serve at Urban Dreams for a 2-hour shift between 9am-6pm. Register in advance.  

Pi515 MLK Service Project – Pi515 is relocating and looking for volunteers to help pack on the 15th, and then to move on the 16th at 10am. They’ll be moving laptops, 3D printers, office supplies and tech tools – no bulky furniture or desks.  

Hope + Elim will host an event from 1-2:30pm to include worship, musical performances by Bridges to Harmony and an inspiring message from special guest Brittany K. Barnett, attorney, author, entrepreneur and criminal justice advocate. They will also have a Day of Service on Jan. 20 from 10am-noon cleaning some local schools.  

Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Multicultural Reception and West Des Moines MLK Day Celebration3-5pm at the MidAmerican Energy RecPlex. Multicultural Reception and Round table from 3-3:45pm and WDM MLK Celebration with keynote speaker Rich A. Salas, Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Professor for the Behavioral Medicine and Bioethics Department at Des Moines University, along with a scholarship and awards presentation from 3:45-5pm.  

Also part of the West Des Moines MLK Day of Service: 

  • Historic Jordan House Museum (2001 Fuller Road) 
    Free tours and book giveaways will occur on Sunday, January 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Jordan House is a member of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. 

Forest Ave. Library MLK Day Celebration, 4-5pm at the Forest Ave. Library. Keynote speaker is Dr. Ian Roberts, Superintendent of the Des Moines Public School District. Live ASL interpretation will be onsite for the speakers, and refreshments will be served, funded by the Forest Avenue Library Brick Fund. The After School Arts Program (ASAP) will be leading a collaborative art project that children can participate in to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.  

DMARC Volunteer Opportunities – DMARC has several ways to volunteer on this day. They are seeking groups ranging from 4 to 20 people to help fill morning shifts (9am-noon) and afternoon shifts (1-4pm). Tasks may include deep cleaning the warehouse, labeling food items, palatizing and boxing items, trash clean up, inventory of items and packing donations. Sign up at    

Ankeny Multicultural Taskforce MLK Day of Service. Ankeny Service Center - donations of non-perishable items & clothing requested. Ankeny School District - donations of personal hygiene items, kleenex, clorox wipes, and clothing (youth sweatpants and shirts) requested. Holy Trinity Church - donations of non-perishable items requested. 

Undesign the Redline Exhibit – Watch the video series, which explores the history of redlining and systemic racism in housing and the local history of discriminatory housing policies in Des Moines. Learn how that history has impacted Des Moines and what we can do about it.   

Free Skating with Donations at Brenton Skating Rink, 12-9pm. Receive free admission to Brenton Skating Plaza with a donation of non-perishable food 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.  

Compiled by the Drake University Office of Community Engaged Learning. Learn about additional volunteer opportunities at

Jan. 15, 2024 is the 29th 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. 

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