DIY Thursdays: Volunteer this Monday to Save Money While Keeping Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Alive

This Monday, January 20, 2014 is the day that the US has set aside to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream of equality. Over the years, this federal holiday has also turned into the National Day of Service. On this day, Americans of all nationalities and ages celebrate him through volunteering and uniting to strengthen communities, empower individuals, and bridge barriers.

Schools and most businesses are closed in observance of this holiday. This means spending extra money on activities to keep the kids entertained throughout the day. But with volunteering, the activities that will keep them entertained are completely free, and some organizations even provide snacks and lunch to their volunteers.

Why Volunteer On MLK Day of Service

Dr. King believed in and encouraged one united nation of freedom and justice for all. He also was very vocal in encouraging all citizens to live and work daily among each other as mixed races by practicing the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live.

How Can I Get Involved

The best part of all is that people of all genders, races, and ages can get involved with different volunteering opportunities all over the country. Here are some great places to start:

• Reach out to your local food bank and see if you would be able to come in and volunteer some hours on Monday with your family. You will be surprised at how excited your kids will be to help pack lunches, make sandwiches, or even just greet the people as they are coming in.

• Go to ( and find a project that is in need of volunteers in your area. You will be surprised at how many organizations are left scrambling for volunteers a couple of days before National Day of Service.

• Contact your local division of Habitat for Humanity ( to see if you can help beautify your local community by building and painting homes for deserving families.

• Spend the day creating “help bags” for the homeless which include a clean tooth brush, tooth paste, soap, dental floss, a bottle of water, a comb, a brush, protein bar, and socks. You can take those bags to a local shelter and have them to give the bags out to their homeless.

• Spend the day doing odd jobs for local elderly people. Help them to clean their house, run errands, or just spend some needed quality time with them.

Whatever you choose to do this Monday, make sure to make it count. Use this day to teach your children the true meaning of altruism and paying it forward, while keeping money in your pocket. Remind them how fortunate they are. Share with them that they could have easily been born into any of millions of households in the world that are poverty stricken.

If done the right way, your kids will remember this lesson for years to come and volunteering will become a natural part as to who they are and who they will become in their later years of life.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host of, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+.