18 Philly Spots to Serve This MLK Day

On Monday, January 20, Philadelphia will come together to serve our community for Martin Luther King Jr Day. Below, you’ll find volunteer opportunities, along with service sites and locations, to engage with in the Greater Philadelphia Area—all curated by and with students. We’ve listed the opportunities in three categories:  

  • See opportunities labeled MLK Day Project for MLK-Day-specific volunteer sites
  • See opportunities labeled Ongoing Service for year-round volunteering
  • See Student Spotlights for sites where other students have served, and learn how you can participate both on MLK Day and throughout the year

Join your community in service this MLK Day, and read on to find a service site near you. Join us!

1. MLK Day Project: Global Citizen

Photo Credit: mlkdayofservice.org

The Service: What started 20 years ago as a project in Philadelphia has grown into a national movement in hundreds of cities and towns, with more and more projects turning into ongoing programs and partnerships.
The Location: See ongoing service opportunities across the city here. Sign up to serve on MLK Day below. 

2. Student Spotlight: Ace Mentor Program with Kayla, Drexel ’23

Follow Kayla: @kay.angelique14

Service: ACE Mentor Program of America
How Kayla Got Involved: I got involved with ACE the summer of my 10th grade year. Because I was interested in Architecture, I decided to try it. ACE stands for Architecture, Construction, and Engineering. They’re a mentoring program that helps students in Philly learn about the fields by providing them mentors from firms around the city. I’ve stayed with them since then and participated in events they’ve held. My mentor told me about their MLK Day of Service which I was excited for.
What Kayla Enjoys Most About ACE: What I enjoy most about the place I serve is that we are building things that benefit the Philadelphia recreation centers. Last [time], we built trashcan enclosures so they wouldn’t fall. It was a great experience to learn about power tools and work as a team.
How You Can Sign Up: If you’re interested in registering for ACE, sign up here.

3. Ongoing Service: Back on My Feet Philadelphia

Photo Credit: @backonmyfeet

The Service: Back on My Feet, a national organization operating in 13 major cities across the US, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential employment and housing resources.
The Location: See ongoing team locations and opportunities across the city here.

4. Ongoing Service: Project HOME

Photo Credit: @projecthomephl

The Service: Project HOME is a Philadelphia non-profit organization empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, healthcare, and education.
The Location: 1515 Fairmount Ave

5. MLK Day Project: Hashtag Lunch Bag

The Project: Each volunteer can bring at least three to five packed lunch bags to pass out with the host organization, TY Cares.
The Where: 1500 JFK Blvd
The When: Jan. 20 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

6. Student Spotlight: The Clay Studio with Natasha, Tyler School of Art ’20

Follow Natasha: @natashaya_so 

Service: The Clay Studio
How Natasha Got Involved: I got involved as part of my Artists as Educators class in the Tyler School of Art. (Think more workshops and spreading passion rather than curriculum…). Anyway, I reached out [to The Clay Studio] in hopes of procuring a site to fulfill my practicum, and it was a good match!  They have tons of programming so you’re sure to find an age group and time that works to volunteer.
What Natasha Enjoys Most About The Clay Studio: I enjoyed working with the children, particularly those who were passionate about their work. The classes in general were rambunctious and at times a lot to handle, [but] you’re never alone, as you’re supervised by trained artists and educators who I had the opportunity to observe working with classes. Working with these artists gave me the chance to ask questions and develop my understanding of clay’s properties and the process of working with it from start to finished product. 
How You Can Sign Up: You can send them an email if you’re interested in volunteering!

7. Ongoing Service: Philly Paws

The Service: PAWS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to saving Philadelphia’s homeless and at-risk animals. PAWS is the city’s largest rescue partner and provider of low-cost, basic veterinary care for pet owners and rescue organizations that cannot otherwise access or afford it. 
The Location: 100 N 2nd Street; 1810 Grant Ave; 2900 Grays Ferry Ave

8. Ongoing Service: Special Olympics Philadelphia

The Service: Special Olympics is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization that provides sports training and athletic competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Location: 1000 S Broad St

9. MLK Day Project: MLK Day Art Project Prep & Donation Distribution

The Project: Join Art Sphere Inc. for a morning of prepping art projects for their winter programs.
The Where: 1901 S 9th St
The When: Jan. 20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

10. Project: MLK Day Celebration at African American Museum in Philadelphia

The Project: The African American Museum in Philadelphia and Citizens Bank invite audiences to join us for our annual MLK Day Celebration. See more info here.
The Where: 701 Arch St
The When: Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

11. Student Spotlight: The Penndel-Middletown Emergency Squad with Eric, Arcadia University ’20

Follow Eric: @_ericfink

Service: Penndel-Middletown Emergency Squad
How Eric Got Involved: I first got involved via a recommendation from a friend who worked with the organization. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, so this seemed like a perfect fit. And I’ve always placed a particular emphasis on volunteerism. I initially started out as a non-EMT volunteer until I obtained my EMT certification.
What Eric Enjoys Most About the Emergency Squad: I enjoy having the opportunity to have such a profound impact on people’s lives. Surely, we save lives on a daily basis, but there are other times where we show up just to assist with minor things, like helping someone up after they fell in their house. People call us on their absolute worst days, and we respond with professionalism each time. We’re essentially complete strangers to the patient, but yet they place all their trust in us.
How You Can Sign Up: You can get involved by visiting the Penndel-Middletown Emergency Squad website. Once there, you can download a copy of the volunteer application to fill out. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be an EMT to join initially!

12. MLK Day Project: Filling In the Cap

The Project: Feed and serve the homeless on January 20 by serving hot soup with sandwiches.
The Where: 16th St & JFK Boulevard
The When: Jan. 20 starting at 9 a.m. 

13. MLK Day Project: Bartram’s Garden

Photo Credit: @bartramsgarden

The Project: Each year, the work of more than 1,000 volunteers keeps Bartram’s Garden a vibrant, safe green space.
The Where: 5400 Lindbergh Blvd
The When: Jan. 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

14. Student Spotlight: Kitty Cottage with Sophie, Bryn Mawr College ’23

Follow Sophie: @sophiegreer4
Photo Credit: @kittycottagerescue

Service: Kitty Cottage
How Sophie Got Involved: I got involved with Kitty Cottage, a cat shelter in Norristown, when I joined my school’s animal lover club. We’d visit animal shelters in and around Philly on weekends to volunteer and I went on a few trips to Kitty Cottage.
What Sophie Enjoys Most About the Kitty Cottage: I loved volunteering at Kitty Cottage because I love cats and I loved contributing to a cause greater than myself: in this case, animal welfare. I only visited in the beginning of the semester but still had a great time! I have worked or volunteered at four animal shelters and rescues before I became involved with Kitty Cottage last semester (I am a freshman), and I am so happy I was able to continue helping cats in college!
How You Can Sign Up: You can get involved with Kitty Cottage by filling out their volunteer application, posted here. Then, send the application to them or bring it in when you visit their shelter!

15. Ongoing Service: Park Friends

The Service: Volunteer for various Park Friends group activities, including: park cleanup and beautification days, fundraising events, resource management, and more. 
The Location: Various parks throughout Philadelphia

16. Ongoing Service: Philabundance

Photo Credit: @philabundance

The Service: Philabundance not only runs numerous programs to alleviate hunger today, but also launched in spring 2019 Ending Hunger. For Good. Through that program, Philabundance partners with critical service providers to offer food coupled with other services to help break the cycle of poverty and end hunger for good.
The Location: 3616 South Galloway St

17. MLK Day Project: Library Organization at Willard Elementary School

The Project: Complete the cataloguing of books, move instructional materials out of the library, alphabetize and sort literature, and more.
The Where: 1930 E Elkhart Street
The When: Jan. 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

18. Student Spotlight: Youth Climate Strike with Sophie, Bryn Mawr College ’23

 Follow Sophie: @sophiegreer4 

Service: Youth Climate Strike
How Sophie Got Involved: In addition to Kitty Cottage, I got involved with the Philly Chapter of Youth Climate Strike in October 2019 when I attended one of their open meetings (they posted about it on Instagram).
What Sophie Enjoys Most About Youth Climate Strike: Some people think that climate change will only be a problem in the future. But they’re wrong—climate change is definitely a crisis that’s affecting our lives right now. Just look at how horrible the natural disasters have been in 2019 and 2020: fires raged through California, the Arctic, and the Amazon, and now they’re eviscerating Australia. Knowing this brings my mood down but knowing that I’m working to fight climate change as part of my work with YCS makes me feel better. That’s my favorite part of my work with them: the feeling that I’m contributing to something larger than myself.
How You Can Sign Up: You can get involved with YCS by signing up on our newly launched website.

Keep tagging us as you continue to volunteer around the Philadelphia area, and check out our Instagram for more volunteer highlights this MLK Day.