A call to action ignited more than 250,000 people across the U.S. to participate in service opportunities this week.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) organized thousands of volunteers across the country for a National Day of Service celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to service. The results were 3 million hours of service committed or completed across 3,200 events.
“When Dr. King accepted the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, he underscored our collective responsibility to strive towards the ‘oughtness’ that confronts us as it does today,” said the committee’s CEO Tony Allen in a press release. “President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are empathetic leaders who know the crisis millions of American families are facing. And like Dr. King, they know that we must have a shared commitment — in word and in deed — to bring the nation together in service to others.”
The effort was led by AmeriCorps, a federal agency that brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges through national service and volunteering, according to its website. Participants of the day included service members, veterans, and military families — like Sarah Streyder, a military spouse who founded Secure Family Initiative (SFI).
“At SFI, we were inspired to host a Day of Service event for a number of reasons. Like many Americans, we were devastated by the insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” she explained.
Thinking of the more than 20,0000 National Guard members providing security support in Washington D.C., Streyder says she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“We organized a donation drive for the soldiers and airmen. We thought, if those were our spouses deployed, we’d want to know they were taken care of,” Streyder said.
Operation Gratitude had the same great idea. Thanks to the generosity of participants and donors all across the country, its team delivered more than 180,000 snacks and handwritten notes to the deployed guardsmen. The organization also promoted sending letters of thanks to the nation’s first responders as well as crafting scarves for service members overseas.
Learn more about virtual volunteering opportunities with Operation Gratitude
Since 2010, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood community in New Jersey has committed to spending MLK Day in service. This year they knew the need was greater than ever so 550 families came together to deliver over 100 meals to veterans, collected and knitted hats for children in need, and delivered carloads of vital essentials to community members. They also joined in with 250 others to discuss the legacy of the late Dr. King and his legacy of hope, kindness, and service.
President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, volunteered at Philabundance in South Philadelphia loading canned goods for those in need. They were joined by their daughter and granddaughter. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, gave their time to Martha’s Table in Washington D.C. where they helped youth load essential items and food for those in need.
The PIC encouraged Americans to take part in safe and socially-distanced volunteering opportunities too. Suggestions included writing notes to patients recovering from COVID-19, knitting items for the homeless or even volunteering your time for a help hotline. The possibilities to service were endless.
“Service is a fitting way to start to heal, unite, and rebuild this country we love,” the president wrote in a statement to supporters.