NW Philly honors Martin Luther King with annual day of service

by Staff
Posted 1/9/24

Northwest Philadelphia residents can sweep streets, create art and pull weeds as part of Monday's national celebration. Here's a list.

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NW Philly honors Martin Luther King with annual day of service


Northwest Philadelphia residents can sweep neighborhood streets, create art about the civil rights movement and pull invasive vines at Awbury Arboretum as part of Monday's national celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Organizations throughout the Northwest are offering volunteer opportunities for neighbors seeking to commemorate the work and mission of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The annual holiday was created in 1994 through federal legislation co-authored by then-Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford and Atlanta congressman Rep. John Lewis, both veterans of the civil rights movement with King.

The Day of Service “is extremely significant, not just here in our city, but around the nation,” said Mayor Cherelle Parker, noting that it’s part of a year-round effort to promote social justice work. “Celebrating this legacy is extremely important … This is the first and largest King Day celebration in the nation.”

Parker, who was sworn in last week as the first woman and first African American woman to be elected mayor, said she has long been inspired by Dr. King’s “The Drum Major Instinct” speech, delivered just months before he was assassinated. “Dr. King talks about this innate desire that is in all human beings to, in essence, act as the drum major, to be out front, to be acknowledged, and to be recognized for what we do.”

Parker said it’s a reminder that acknowledgment for your work is not as important as getting the work done.

Looking for a place to volunteer? Here’s a list of local events.

MLK Day of Service at the Schuylkill Center

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Philadelphia.

Here’s a unique opportunity to give back. You’re invited to join the folks at the Schuylkill Center as they work on service projects aimed at protecting the health of our forests. There will be a wide range of service projects available so everyone can participate. Registration is required. 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Friends of the Wissahickon MLK Volunteer Service Day

Meeting at Thomas Mansion, 6245 Wissahickon Ave, Philadelphia.

Give back to Wissahickon Valley Park, its users, the creek, and the plants and animals that rely on it to live. This year, you’ll be completing a variety of projects in the southern section of the park, from removing invasive vines to cleaning up litter. Wear warm layers and bring a water bottle with you. Snow or especially frigid temperatures will cancel this event. Plan to park in the nearby neighborhoods. Registration required. Monday, Jan. 15, 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information, contact Amelia Marren at marren@fow.org and visit 


Donation Drive at Germantown Friends School 

Germantown Friends School, 31 W. Coulter Street, Germantown

Drive up to the campus’ Meetinghouse Porch on Monday, Jan. 15, and drop off items for donation to support organizations in Germantown. Consider donating menstrual supplies to support the SPOT Period Hub in Germantown,winter coats for children to support Cradles to Crayons and new children’s books to support Reach Out and Read at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. For more information, contact Dr. Zarah Adams, zadams@germantownfriends.org

East Mt. Airy Neighbors hosts cleanup 

Roosevelt Middle School, 430 Washington Lane, Germantown

East Mt. Airy Neighbors in partnership with students, families, and faculty along with other community and business stakeholders will clean up Roosevelt Middle School Monday, Jan. 15,  10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For information, email info@eastmtairy.org.

MLK Day of Service at Awbury Arboretum

Awbury Arboretum, One Awbury Road, Germantown.

Participants will assist Awbury Arboretum staff on Monday, Jan. 15, and cut back invasive vines in the AdventureWoods section of the arboretum. Dress for the weather. Please bring hand pruners and gloves if you have them. A limited quantity of gloves and tools will be available. Awbury will provide water and a light snack. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. Park on Ardleigh or Chew and walk to Francis Cope House. There is no rain date. Heavy rain or snow cancels the event, as does a forecast high temperature below 25 degrees. Registration required. 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. awbury.org

Martin Luther King, Jr., Family Festival

Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill.

The program on Monday, Jan. 15, celebrates the words, life and legacy of Dr. King, highlighting stories of the courage, strength and determination of the many determined to make liberty and racial equality a reality in their lives. Artmaking projects will celebrate the words and activism of Dr. King and others involved in the Civil Rights Movement. At 2 p.m., take in a special performance by the award-winning singer and storyteller, TAHIRA, in an interactive show filled with compelling tales of freedom stories and songs. 12-3 p.m. It’s free!


Honor MLK at home or on-site

Unitarian Society of Germantown in Mt. Airy is coordinating a volunteer program  that includes more than 30 opportunities to volunteer by undertaking projects at home or as part of an organized activity at the congregation on Lincoln Drive or in the neighborhood. At home, volunteers can sew microwaveable heat packs, bake brownies or assemble baby bag kits. At the congregation on Jan. 15, volunteers can make brown bag lunches, assemble personal care kits and make birthday cards. Organizers are also seeking donations of toiletries, personal care items and warm clothing. For more information and a full list of volunteer projects, visit usguu.org.

Beloved Community Conversation

Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue, Germantown

Explore themes of Beloved Community, mutuality, and neighborhood organizing, with a focus on housing and gentrification in an interactive workshop and discussion-style event hosted by Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together. Childcare, snacks, and refreshments provided.  Monday, Jan. 15, 1 to 3 p.m. Register by Jan. 12 at eventbrite.com.

E-Waste Drive

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, McCausland Lower School parking lot, 8000 Cherokee St.

The school honors King by partnering with PAR-Recycle Works to host an e-waste drive offering residents a place to deposit their electronic waste, and by doing so, serve as stewards of the environment.The drive will accept any small or medium-sized items with a plug or wire. Hard drives/SSDs (common storage devices) are wiped clean according to NSA standards. Walk-ins are welcome.

Germantown Community Cleanup

Meet at corner of 5700 Greene St., Germantown

Germantown United CDC and partners I Love They Hood and Weavers Way Coop host community cleanup Sunday, Jan. 14, 10 a.m to 1 p.m. Come with your brooms, buckets, gloves and masks. Refreshments will be provided.

WHYY  contributed to this report.