The “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service” logo on t-shirts issued to volunteers.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Obama presidential campaign:

…In your neighborhood and in thousands of communities across the country, Americans are answering President-elect Obama’s call to service.

Tomorrow, January 19th, our nation will come together in a shared spirit of community. And I wanted to make sure you know how to participate.

Monday is not only the eve of an inauguration that brings all of us so much hope, it’s also Martin Luther King Jr. Day — when we recognize the power of one man to bring about change by serving his country.

Help kick off an ongoing commitment to serve our communities by taking part in this extraordinary day of service….

I went to the web site and found an event in my locale. The marshaling area for the volunteers was on the university campus – this early in the morning on a day off from school.

Over fifty students showed up for the early morning orientation and subsequent assignment into volunteer groups to work all day at tasks for a number of local non-profit community groups.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is an annual volunteer activity which has begun to take off:

…In 1994 Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action. The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.

Participation in the King Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King’s life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round.

Although the scope of the event grows every year, many people still are not aware of the service component of the holiday. By encouraging the participation of as many organizations as possible, we hope to make next year’s King Day of Service the biggest and best ever, engaging more people in service that honors Dr. King’s life and teachings…

Student volunteers signing in early in the morning.

From the local volunteer organizers:

…Tiffany Bumpers, a UCM Americorps volunteer, is coordinating the “A Day On, Not a Day Off” day of service on Jan. 19, 2009. The goal of this day is to give the community something they can’t get off a shelf, carrying Dr. King’s message that “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” Bumpers and her team of volunteers and group leaders hope to leave a lasting impact on the community…

…”The purpose of this day is to give back to the people of Warrensburg,” Bumpers said. “The day of service has been a success in many other cities such as Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and we want it to be a success here too…”

A volunteer team gets their bearings before leaving for their assignment.