Guest blog by Community Service National Chairman Elaine Mackenzie, a 14-year member of Colchester Unit 91 in Colchester, Vt.
Haven’t started planning yet for Martin Luther King Jr. Day? It’s not too late! Now is a good time to begin planning your community service project for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Jan. 21, 2019. Days of service have a focus on empowering individuals, strengthening communities, and creating solutions to social problems.
First, contact organizations that support our veterans, such as transitional housing facilities, homeless shelters, or your U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office. Ask them what is needed for veterans in your area. Focus your questions on the needs of women veterans and homeless veterans. The answer may be food, clothing, personal items, pet supplies, or laundry supplies. Other ideas for organizing a project: Ask women veterans to speak in classrooms about their service experience, clean a facility that serves women veterans, or offer an employment mentoring workshop.
Next, organize your project by advertising in your community, through flyers in stores and community centers, notices in local radio and television stations, and in your local newspaper. Be clear about your project, and include information about what you are collecting, where supplies can be dropped off, and the deadline for accepting donations. Flyer templates can be found at www.ALAforVeterans.org, in the Members Only section. When taking your flyers to places for posting, always wear your ALA branded clothing, smile, and remember to say, “thank you.”
On the day you sort and deliver the collected items, invite your local media. Take lots of action pictures and post them to social media sites. Many local papers will publish a good action photo with a short tagline.
You can plan a community service project for any time of year, but an advantage to planning it for Jan. 21, 2019, is that news outlets may have more interest in including your project in their coverage.
This was first published in the November Auxiliary magazine.
In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.