Making Good Things Happen on MLK Day of Service

For more than 20 years, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) has brought together local volunteers to give back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is the only holiday also dedicated as a national day of service. This year, United Way Hands On, UWCA’s volunteer center, hosted four local opportunities for service at Moss Rock Preserve, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Norwood Elementary School and Pathways.
Hundreds of volunteers served their community on January 15, 2024, honoring Dr. King’s legacy of loving his community and working to make it better and stronger. Rachael Upton, UWCA’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, said, “Central Alabama, particularly Birmingham, has significant history associated with Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. It is important for us to reflect on — and honor — those who fought for equality. Serving the community on MLK Day each year is a wonderful way to do that, and we strive to engage all of our community members and provide an educational experience that enhances that history.”

Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife and a highly respected and accomplished civil rights activist herself, said, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”
This year, volunteers had a variety of indoor and outdoor options for service. At Moss Rock Preserve, volunteers removed exotic plants from rare plant habitats. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, anticipating a large crowd of visitors for the day, had volunteers assist with activities. Jones Valley Teaching Farm partnered with UWCA at Norwood Elementary School to build an outdoor classroom featuring garden beds, a vegetable washing station, a pavilion and more. As part of a private group project at Pathways, volunteers helped with a variety of tasks, including sorting donations, painting and cleaning.
Giving back addresses physical needs and brings communities together. While we hope you’ll mark your calendars for the MLK Day of Service 2025, we also encourage you to visit the website of United Way Hands On to find fun and meaningful ways to give back all year round.