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MLK Day of Service and celebrations in Austin

Where to march, volunteer, and celebrate on this year’s holiday weekend

MLK March in Downtown Austin, 2017
Via Austin MLK Celebration/Facebook

During the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this weekend, there is no shortage of events for celebration, remembrance, education, and tribute.

In recent years, celebration of the holiday (now in its 32nd year) also includes a citywide MLK Day of Service. Several local organizations offer volunteer opportunities for special projects to be carried out in honor of the holiday.

If you’d like to be of service this holiday weekend, check out this list below—we’ve rounded up info about celebration and service events, including of places where you can volunteer. Click on headings to get more information about specific events.

You can also get more information about MLK Day celebrations and Day of Service opportunities at the MLK Celebration website.

Did we miss an event? Leave details in the Comments section below or hit us up on the tipline, please.

Thursday, Jan. 11

MLK Oratory Competition

The audience at the evening event at St. James’ Episcopal Church (1941 Webberville Road) will have the opportunity to hear fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students compete with speeches based on a theme related to the ideals and principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how they relates to the world today.

Saturday, Jan. 13 (Day of Service)

MLK Boulevard Clean-up

There are actually six routes for this community clean-up along East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is one of the events United Way—Hands on Central Texas puts on for the holiday yearly. All volunteers will meet for a kick-off breakfast at United Way for Greater Austin (look for the You’re My Butter Half mural), then break into their routes and meet with their route leaders to get supplies, additional directions, and information on where they can park closest to their clean-up area.

Central Texas Food Bank—South Austin Project

Help ensure ensure the food the Central Texas Food bank distributes is safe and healthy by helping inspect, clean, sort, box, and make donated food ready to go out to their partner agencies and the folks they serve. There’s a morning and an afternoon shift; morning volunteers will not attend the volunteer breakfast but go directly to the site.

Beautification of Lifeworks Grounds

Lifeworks Austin, which assists and advocates for challenged families and children on their paths to self-sufficiency, invites volunteers to partner with them on Saturday for a service project benefiting this community. They’ll be will be tackling a clean up of the grounds, organizing outreach packages/bags, and helping LifeWorks Austin with other miscellaneous tasks.

Peace Through Pie Social and Kealing Clean-up

Volunteers and organizers will gather at Kealing Middle School for a Peace Through Pie (pizza and pie) community social from noon to 1 p.m., then join together in a service event working on the school grounds and cleaning up surrounding neighborhood.

MLK Youth Legacy Scholarship Reception

Scholarship recipients in the Austin community will be recognized for their commitment, achievement, and inspiration at an afternoon reception on the ACC Eastview Campus.

Monday, Jan. 15 (MLK Day)

MLK March, Festival, and Food Drive

The annual MLK Community March that “celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while uplifting diversity and multiculturalism in our city,” as the organizers put it, kicks off at 9 a.m. with a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus (23rd Street & Speedway).

The march then proceeds to Huston-Tillotson University, where a festival with numerous activities is planned (see below). All businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals are invited to march and celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.

You can find a map and a description of the parade route here.

Food Drive

This year, organizers we asking marchers to help by donating canned goods or non-perishable food items to the Central Texas Food Bank. Donation receptacles will be available at The University of Texas and the state Capitol while the march is in those locations. Receptacles will also be available at the festival at Huston-Tillotson University.

MLK Community Celebration & Music Festival

The MLK Community Festival commences immediately after the march has arrived at the Huston-Tillotson campus and will last until 3 p.m. The celebration includes many types of vendors, food trucks, and performances by local musical artists.

Mary Lee Foundation

Mary Lee Foundation is looking for volunteers to help beautify the square block of South Austin that is home to Austin’s seniors, veterans, adults with disabilities, and many individuals and families with very low income. Projects will include cleaning up flower beds, painting, and cleaning and organizing kitchens.

Austin Youth River Watch Cleanup and Planting at Buttermilk Creek

Join the young river watchers from 10 a.m. to noon and help remove trash from the Buttermilk Park Greenbelt and and plant native grass plugs near the creek.

Adelphi Acre Community Garden

Support a north Austin community garden from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. by helping clear invasive weeds and plants, mulching, and help with other special projects. No gardening expertise needed for this family-friendly project.

Huston-Tillotson University

900 Chicon Street, , TX 78702 Visit Website