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How to Serve Your Local Community on Martin Luther King Day

In 1961, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Columbia about his work registering voters in Mississippi and his proposed executive order to outlaw segregation, an effort that was eventually included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Read the story of how a Columbia student rallied support across the city to host Martin Luther King, Jr. at Miller Theatre in Columbia Magazine

Honor Dr. King's legacy on Martin Luther King Day by giving back. The SPS DEIA Committee and Community Programs encourages students, faculty and staff to participate in these and other volunteer opportunities on MLK Day and throughout the year.

Community Impact:  Community Impact’s Columbia University and Barnard College volunteers serve low-income and unemployed residents in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities.  Volunteers can participate in 27 community service programs, ranging from youth education to adult education to emergency assistance for homeless families. While CI’s programs mostly depend on a semester or year-long commitment from Columbia students, there are also opportunities available for faculty, staff and community members to volunteer. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, Community Impact is able to serve more than 8,000 people each year.  To learn more about CI programs, please visit these program pages, where you will also find email addresses.   For more information on volunteer activities, please contact Sandy Helling at sh18 [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu ().

Community Impact Food Pantry operates every Monday, Wednesday & Thursday between 10am-2pm, in 2 hour shifts (10-12pm & 12-2pm) at Ford Hall. Interested volunteers can connect directly with Ricardo Bustamante, rab2232 [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu for more details. 

The Community Lunch Soup Kitchen operates every Friday 10am-2pm, in the basement kitchen at Broadway Presbyterian Church. Volunteers are welcome to drop in, no sign-up ahead necessary. Interested volunteers can learn more by contacting communitylunchsoupkitchen [[at]] gmail [[dot]] com ()

University Life: Join The University Life Events Council and Community Impact as they support literacy initiatives in Harlem elementary schools by creating bookmarks at home and/or by donating your gently used or new elementary books to the classrooms.   The Events Council will offer free DIY bookmark materials on Monday, January 24.  For Information see MLK Day of Service | University Life

AmeriCorps' MLK Day of Service 

AmeriCorps, the U.S. government agency that engages civilians in community service efforts, offers a list of local organizations that offer ways for volunteers to serve the community this Monday. Enter your zip code and the keyword "#MLK"  into the AmeriCorps Volunteer Search to find opportunities organized through AmeriCorps, Idealist, Just Serve, California Volunteers, MENTOR, (National Park Service), and VolunteerMatch. 

Local Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens Accepting Volunteers

CUIMC's Office of Government and Community Affairs offers a list of local food pantries and soup kitchens that are accepting volunteers, with some services adjusted for health and safety precautions due to the pandemic. Any SPS students who might be facing food insecurity at any level are encouraged to reach out to The Food Pantry at Columbia, a student-run, student-managed initiative that is open to all students.

Catholic Charities - Ecumenical Food Pantry

Mission: Catholic Charities works to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of goodwill to do the same. Services Amid COVID-19: Catholic Charities Ecumenical Food Pantry is operating to assist neighbors in need. 

City Harvest

Mission: City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization, helping to feed New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. The organization delivers food, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community partners across the five boroughs. 

Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)

Mission: CLOTH is a multi-service, community development organization dedicated to supporting and empowering economically disadvantaged residents of Washington Heights. Services Amid COVID-19: CLOTH's food pantry has doubled its efforts and days of operation to meet increasing demand. Volunteer Needs: Volunteers are needed Monday-Saturday to unload food, organize shelves, pack bags, and distribute food.  Volunteer Days / Hours: Monday 7-10 am, 4:30-7 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 9am-1 pm, and Friday 7-10 am and 2-5 pm. Volunteer Sign up: Please email pantry [[at]] cloth159 [[dot]] org 

Holyrood Church

Mission: Holyrood Church is a Protestant Episcopal church that serves a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, and multigenerational community of people who congregate to worship in three languages; English, Spanish, and Sign Language (ASL). Services Amid COVID-19: The Community Food Ministry is providing free prepared meals to people in need. Volunteer Needs: Volunteers are needed to support the Community Food Ministry  Volunteer Days / Hours: Wednesday (starting at 10 am) and Friday (starting 2 pm) Volunteer Sign Up: Please email uharmony [[at]] aol [[dot]] com

La Puerta Estrecha Food Pantry

Mission: Located at La Puerta Estrecha Church, the food pantry is packaging and delivering food to local residents in need. Services Amid COVID-19: La Puerta Estrecha Food Pantry is preparing bags to deliver to people in need. 

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) 

Mission: NMIC's mission is to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures. NMIC addresses a broad array of immediate needs, integrating numerous crisis intervention services under one roof. Services Amid COVID-19: NMIC is providing remote services. The organization also launched the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and is operating a mobile food pantry.

UpLift NYC

Mission: Uplift NYC is a New York State not-for-profit organization providing low-income youth and their families with access to key resources such as educational, health, cultural, and legal aid services. Services Amid COVID-19: Uplift NYC is temporarily pivoting its programming to meet the emergency nutritional needs of our community. Through the Emergency Relief Fund food care packages are being delivered to neighbors in need. Volunteer Needs: Volunteers are needed to support the Emergency Relief Fund's efforts and for food package distribution. Volunteer Days / Hours: Friday and Saturday (hours vary) Volunteer Sign up: Please visit