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Americans Urged to Honor King by Serving on Holiday

Thursday, January 17, 2008  
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Half a Million Americans Will Make King Holiday a Day On, Not a Day Off

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pointing to the more than 5,000 service projects planned across the country, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service organizers urged Americans to participate on January 21 in what will be an historic number of people serving in tribute to the civil rights leader who said: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing to help others?”

More than a half million Americans in all fifty states will engage in a wide variety of projects ranging from signing up volunteers to tutor and mentor children to painting schools and senior centers, to delivering meals and building homes. Forty years after the civil rights leader's death, Americans are coming out in record numbers to build what Dr. King called “the Beloved Community.”

President Bush, members of the King family, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, actors and athletes, and many of America's largest nonprofits and businesses have joined the King Center and the Corporation for National and Community Service in calling on Americans to make the King Holiday a “day on, not a day off”.

“As we observe Dr. King's birthday, I encourage all Americans to celebrate his memory by performing acts of kindness through service to others,” said President Bush in a proclamation issued today. “Let us live out Dr. King's teachings as we continue to work for the day when the dignity and humanity of every person is respected.”

More than 1,700 community groups have organized volunteer projects, and the number continues to grow every day. Americans who want to volunteer on King Day are asked to visit to find local opportunities. Many Americans will also use the day to make a commitment to year-round service as they sign up to be mentors, tutors and helpers in their communities.

In recognition of the 40 years since Dr. King's assassination, a special focus of this year's King Day of Service will be to encourage young people, families, schools, faith communities, and other organizations to pledge 40 days of nonviolence and service to help reach King's dream of a peaceful and more just society. Projects highlighting King's message of nonviolence including gang summits in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City, pledge drives for youth and inmates to avoid violence, recruitment of neighborhood watch groups, and more.

“American can best honor Dr. King by answering his call and serving -- on the holiday and over the rest of the year as well,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency charged by Congress with making the King Holiday a national day of service. “Dr. King understood that making America what it ought to be means Americans doing what they ought to do. On January 21st and throughout the year, we need more people working side by side, with idealism and passion, to realize Dr. King's dream of a better America.”

In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe the King Holiday as a day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. Participation has grown every year and 2008 promises to be a historic year.

National nonprofit partners in the King Day of Service include the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Red Cross, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, America's Promise, Arizona Governor's Commission on Service and Volunteerism, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Breakthrough Collaborative, City Year, The Corps Network, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, HOPE worldwide, The King Memorial Foundation, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, National Marrow Donor Program, National Alliance of Faith and Justice, Points of Light & Hands On Network, Service for Peace, Student Conservation Association, United Way of America, Volunteer Match, YouthBuild USA, Youth Service America. Corporate partners include Cargill, Clear Channel, Comcast, Shell Oil Company, and UPS.

The mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, go to

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