Instead of the usual weekend ideas, this week we’ll be focusing on ways to get kids involved in the MLK Day of Service on Monday January 16. Though schools are closed, MLK Day is designed to be a “Day On” of service. And while there are many projects and celebrations going on around the city, some are better suited for families with children.
Many school and preschools create their own service projects for the day. Check with yours to see if they have something planned, since these may be your best bet for age-appropriate activities. Or to search city-wide and register for one of the hundreds of projects happening, visit the Greater Philadelphia MLK Day of Service website.
Here are a few family-friendly ideas we’ve discovered, feel free to add more in the comments section. And be advised: register ASAP, if available. As you’ll see, many programs are already full!
Join with Others to Serve
The Unitarian Society of Germantown offers many several kid-friendly service activities for MLK Day. The USG has a day planned with a morning gathering beginning at 8:30am, followed by a choice of activities, including MLK reading and activity games, decorating lunch bags for homeless agencies (adults can make the lunches), a coat drive, making cards for meals on wheels, and more. For more information and to register, check visit their link (register early to get preferred projects).
Another local organization that hosts a variety of activities is Girard College. Girard is the hub for the Greater Philadelphia MLK Day of Service. They’ll coordinate over 150 projects and 3,000 volunteers. Check out the kid’s carnival and many workshops on-site, as well as many off-site projects offered throughout the region. Volunteer check-in is from 8:00 – 8:30, and projects and festivities run from 9am-noon. They’ll also be collecting the following items for donations: blankets, books, canned goods, pajamas, professional attire (male and female), toiletries, toys and outdoor winter clothing.
The Trolley Car Diner partners with the Anna B. Day School to paint and do repair projects around the school, but this activity is now full. They are still offering home ownership classes and drop-off for a coat drive as alternative options. City Year also sponsors MLK activities at both Pastorius and Germantown High schools. There will also be a free performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra Concert at MLK High School.
Start a Coat Drive
Even though several projects are booked, you can huddle the kids together and start your own. There are several places to pass along coats in good used condition. This might be a great activity- help children go through their outgrown items and select some to donate. Children could also collect from friends, neighbors and relatives to contribute to the stash and drop them off together on MLK Day. Here are some coat drop-off sites that will be taking donations through the 16th:
Burlington Coat Factory– Drop off at the customer service desk and receive a 10% discount on your next purchase.
Trolley Car Diner (Mt. Airy and E. Falls)- Coats will be donated to the Roxborough Salvation Army and distributed to families & individuals throughout the Delaware Valley
Start a Book Drive
If you’re short on coats, maybe a book drive suits your family better? Again, involving the kids in sorting and collecting books to pass along to other children (pre-k through young adult titles) is a great way to get in the MLK spirit. The Philadelphia Reads Book Bank is cleverly located at MLK High School! This program allows teachers in schools, preschools and childcare centers to select up to 400 free books each year for their classrooms. The Book Bank take donations of new and used children’s books, school supplies and incentive prizes. Call 215.279.7450 or email to set a time for dropping off donations. Ongoing.
You can also drop books off locally to Chestnut Hill College for their annual year-long book drive to help stock a local school library. This year’s collections will go to John S. Jenks School in Chestnut Hill and the Pantoja Charter School in Hunting Park. New or gently used books for children from K-8th grade can be dropped off in the bins just inside St. Joseph’s Hall’s back entrance (basement floor). Ongoing.
Learn, Serve, and Celebrate!
If you like combining your service with learning and celebrating, there are wonderful MLK programs going on at many of the cultural institutions throughout the city, including:
The African American Museum of Philadelphia: fabulous listing of activities & free admission for MLK Day
The National Constitution Center: another spot chock-full of MLK activities for kids
The National Museum of American Jewish History– great activities and free admission to Philly’s newest museum on MLK Day
Lots of ways to get involved this MLK Day. Please add any we’ve missed in the comments section below.
NW Philly Parents is a partnership between NewsWorks.org and GermantownAvenueParents.com, a community blog covering events and issues of interest to parents and children in Northwest Philadelphia.