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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

In the words of Associate Provost of Campus Equity and Inclusion, Jen Harvey, "We’re living in a time when the issues that defined King’s life—access to vote; high quality public education for all children; the basic right to food and housing security; the need for robust, interracial recognition; the belief that none of us are free when any one of us is oppressed—remain relevant and urgent. In fact, in a multitude of ways in 2021, these issues are on the surface of many of our civic and global challenges. We need to be and become the people King truly believed we could be for the good of us all."

The Drake community is encouraged to participate in an educational or volunteer activity to honor the legacy and continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 17 All events listed are on Jan. 17, unless otherwise noted.  

Volunteer opportunities:.

  • MLK Day of Service at CYC – Join Community Youth Concepts in a virtual service project with guest speaker via Zoom from 10:00-11:00am. Then, from 1:00-3:00pm, there will be in-person events at King Elementary (1849 Forest Ave, Des Moines). There will be a number of different service projects for participants of all ages. Please RSVP (for 1 or both of the events) using the link, CYC’s 2022 MLK Day Registration, or by emailing Learn more 

  • Urban Dreams MLK Day of Service – 9am-5pm. Join the Urban Dreams’ board, staff, and supporters in a day of service “Helping Urban Dreams Help Others.” 

  • MLK Packaging event at Meals From the Heartland – Volunteer for a 90-minute shift between 9am-5pm to package meals for the hungry here in Iowa and around the world. Learn more at

  • Urbandale Public Library MLK National Day of Service – 11am-1pmDonate new personal care items to benefit Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) and get fines removed from your account. You can also drop in between 11am-1pm to help assemble hygiene kits for YSS and hear from a Peer Support Advocate. That evening from 6-7pm, hear “Lessons of the Holocaust” with Brad Wilkening. He will inspire the audience to create safer and more caring communities where people act as upstanders rather than bystanders. He is a former teacher and member of the Iowa Holocaust Commission.  

  • Free Skating with Donations at Brenton Skating Rink, 11am-9pm. Receive free admission to Brenton Skating Plaza with a food or clothing donation. 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. Accepted donation examples: Winter gloves, new underwear, ready to eat/easy meals, soups, peanut butter, canned tuna, canned fruit, cereal boxes.  

     Learn about additional volunteer opportunities at 

Educational opportunities:

  • 9th Annual MLK Jr. Prayer Breakfast – 7:30-9:30am. Presented by John R. Grubb YMCA, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Join via Zoom to hear impassioned speakers and music and honor award recipients. Learn more and register at 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day in West Des Moines – 3-6pm, MidAmerican Energy Company Recplex, 6500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines. Free and open to all families and individuals. Refreshments provided. 3pm Roundtable discussion – register at, WDM MLK Day Celebration with Youth Scholarship and Community Leadership Awards, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ performance by Hadley Harvey, and keynote by Audrey Kennis  

  • 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. 

  • Forest Ave. Library MLK Day Celebration, 3:30-4:30pm via Zoom. Jill Wells will be the featured speaker. In 2021, she painted the mural “Future” at the Evelyn K. Davis Center. She is best known for her dynamic and colorful narrative paintings investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility and human experiences. Register at

  • Free Tours of the Jordan House MuseumSunday, Jan. 16, 11am-2pm. 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.  Each family or group will be given a copy of Dr. King’s collection of sermons, “Strength to Love” and children’s book “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.”   

  • 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. 

Jan. 17, 2022 is the 27th 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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