It’s been a long couple of weeks, and if having another day off from school is stressing you out, we hear you. But this is no ordinary day—it’s a time to remember and appreciate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to our country, and it resonates particularly more during this trying time. While your kids may be jockeying to watch their favorite movies or play video games all day, why not look for ways to observe this important holiday? Your family can give back in the spirit of Dr. King with a “Day of Service” activity, take part in an MLK Jr. donation drive, or honor his legacy at a celebration, or do a little bit of all three. Make use of your kids’ day off by making Monday a day on—and teach your kids the valuable lessons of kindness and service at the same time.
Since COVID-19 rules and regulations are continually changing, check ahead for cancellations or changes to in-person events.
Featured Photo Credit: iStock.com/Sean Pavone
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33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Virtual Commemoration
January 14 at 8 AM
The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at their 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration. Don’t miss keynote speaker Andrea McChristian, Law & Policy director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Another highlight of the event will be the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award—Rabbi Sally J. Pries, the first female to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States, this year’s recipient of the prestigious award.
Cost: Free to attend; there are sponsored tickets available
State of New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission’s MLK Jr. Virtual Youth Conference
January 16 at 3 PM
The New Jersey Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission will be presenting “The Fierce Urgency of Now.” This year’s program to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King will include Secretary of State Tahesha Way, a round table discussion on health disparities, musical performances, and special announcements.
A Day of Service In Nature
January 17 at 9 AM
Friends of Princeton Open Space, a nonprofit dedicated to land preservation, is hosting a Day of Service in Nature in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Help work on the Riparian Restoration Project: Restore the Lakeshore at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve in Princeton. Have the whole family join (kids under 16 must be accompanied by a parent) to help remove invasive plants species and install deer-exclusion caging around native tree and shrub saplings.
Cost: Free, complete a waiver form and click here to complete the volunteer form (add “MLK DAY” to the Other Information section)
Mountain Lake House Parking lot, 57 Mountain Ave, Princeton, NJ 08540, and then walk over to the project site as a group
National Day of Service at Reeves-Reed Arboretum
January 17 at 9 AM
Families can stop by the Arboretum (on the patio outside the Stackhouse Education Center) to pick up supplies to create Valentine cards delivered to the Essential Workers in the community. Complete your card at home and return it to the Arboretum any time before February 10 in the container outside the Stackhouse Education Center.
Reeves-Reed Arboretum – 165 Hobart Ave, Summit, NJ 07901
10th Annual Scotch Plains Fanwood MLK Day of Service
January 17, Online 10 AM and In-Person at 11 AM
Adults and families are welcome to join the Scotch Plains/Fanwood community to learn, remember, and volunteer. Opportunities like making activity bags for pediatric patients, dropping off donations, delivering meals to homebound seniors, and making crafts from recycled materials will be available between 11 AM – 5 PM.
Virtual, Drop-off, and distant Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA – 1340 Martine Ave, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
Celebrate the Art & Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the Arts Council of Princeton
January 17 at 10 AM
This event features a complimentary grab-and-go breakfast, family-friendly art-making, and a canned food drive.
Cost: Free, but RSVP is suggested.
Center for the Arts – 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton, NJ 08542
Volunteer Center of Burlington County’s MLK Jr. Day Challenge
January 17 at 10 AM
It’s the 16th Annual MLK Day Challenge to encourage Burlington County residents to join hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country in remembering and memorializing Dr. King by participating in service projects in their communities. Take part in a Food Collection for the Oaks Integrated Food Pantry, Animal Supplies Collection for Burlington County Animal Shelter, and Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey Collection Operation Yellow Ribbon supporting the United States Military Forces.
Burlington County Library- Main Branch – 5 Pioneer Blvd., Westampton, NJ 08060
(856) 222-9311 x1492
West Windsor Arts Council’s MLK Jr. Day Virtual Panel Discussion and a Day of Service
January 17 at 10 AM
For this 4th annual MLK Day of Service event, West Windsor Arts partnered with the African American Parent Support Group (AAPSG) and the WW-P youth chapter. Organizations that will receive service projects include Children’s Home Society of NJ, Millhill Family Development Center, PEI Kids, Rise Community Services, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Womanspace, and more.
West Windsor Arts Center – 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550
(609) 716 – 1931
Whitesbog’s MLK Jr. Day of Service
January 17 at 10:30 AM
If you’re done with screens and looking to get outside, bundle up the fam for this on-site, in-person service day outdoors with socially-distanced activities that are weather-dependent. Projects include picking up trash and branches on the trails and moving boxes, taking down holiday decorations, and packing and organizing supplies. For something more creative (and less physical), your family can make thank you cards for community members.
120 W. Whitesbog Road, #34 Browns Mills, NJ 08015
Jersey Cares’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
January 17, various times
Your whole family can help out at this event virtually or in person. You can draw an electronic card, make a restful night kit, take a virtual Chopped challenge, create a canvas painting, or record yourself reading popular novels to senior citizens. There are in-person project opportunities in Garfield, Cherry Hill, Branchburg, Metuchen, Freehold, Livingston, and Morristown.
Virtual, Garfield, Cherry Hill, Branchburg, Metuchen, Freehold, Livingston, and Morristown
Ocean City’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ceremony
January 17 at 12 PM
This event brings the community together to remember Dr. King through words, song, and dance. The City of Ocean City annually honors residents of Ocean City with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards. This award is given to someone who exemplifies the late Dr. King’s philosophy and ideas, who worked to advance civil rights, equal education, labor rights, voter rights, and who fought racial inequality through non-violence and civil disobedience.
Ocean City Music Pier – 825 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
January 17 at 1 PM
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service will be an in-person and virtual event. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been in a partnership with the New Jersey Veterans Affairs since 2019 and will be making “thank you for your service” cards for the veterans. After the event, they’ll mail the cards to the Veterans Haven homes in north and south New Jersey.
Virtual and The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey- 68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ 07901
Community Day: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Newark Museum of Art
January 18 at 10 AM
Start your MLK Jr. Day with an inspiring musical performance directed by Chinah Blac. There will be other events like moving videos and interactive projects throughout the day.
National Day of Racial Healing
January 18 at 3 PM
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “All life is interrelated…Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is partnering with The National Day of Racial Healing which includes in-person and virtual visual art exhibitions, theatre, dance, and music performances, community workshops, panel discussions, and film screenings. Please register in advance.