A Day of Service

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  In honor of the great memories and inspiration we hold of Dr. King’s legacy, we pay tribute to him by making this a national day of service. That’s not all though, we are challenging others to use this day to be in the service of others. 

Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” It strikes a powerful chord within me, one that causes my mind to question the deeds on which I have done for others, with the benefit of my community’s well-being in mind.  

I grew up surrounded by family who took great care in organizing and taking part in community organizations that worked for the benefit of others. My childhood was filled with charity bake sales, fundraising events like Mardi Gras, silent auctions, meat raffles, and benefits in the wake of accidents, death, expensive medical treatments, domestic abuse, a loss of a home, that our local community members were forced to face. 

To me, It’s always been a beautiful piece of my home, the comfort that when a crisis hits, our community rallies together to lift them up. With circumstances like a worldwide pandemic leaving us to lead a virtual life, secluded from our loved ones as we try to patiently wait for our turn to get a vaccine has prevented us from using previous tread paths, we are now forces to pave a new path, evolve. 

Going back to Dr. King and his words that life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others?” This new virtual world that we live in made me think twice about how I can follow through with my dedications to be of service to others and to inspire others to go on this journey with me. 

That’s why I wanted to put together a few examples for all of us to find ways to be in the service of others in a COVID safe way.

Wear A Mask

By wearing a mask in public, you’re protecting our communities from the deadly spread of COVID-19. 

This has become a highly politicized topic, one that shouldn’t be. It’s created a divisive atmosphere that now constantly surrounds the subject, that needs to stop. 

Watch this video of ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ explaining to us why wearing a mask is a matter of life and death, which makes this a great act of service to your community.

Give Gently Used Clothing to Local Shelters

Winter in Wisconsin is very cold, sometimes below freezing, but yet so many families in need suffer in the cold. I’ve worked in customer service for over sixteen years, over that time, I have witnessed children come into local restaurants and markets purchasing their own food and groceries with no coat, hat, gloves, or boots to protect them from the bitter cold. 

I know a lot of folks drop their clothes off at places like GoodWill, but I’d like to urge my neighbors to look into donating to local charities instead. The benefit would be that you’re donation will directly help your neighbors, their children, and their loved ones. They would go to the families that are suffering the most among us, like the folks I’d see in my time working customer service who couldn’t afford a winter coat. 

With the air of caution on ensuring that you’re donating quality gently used clothing.

Provide Fresh Food to Local Food Pantries

Food insecurity is a terrifying reality many of us have had to face or are facing more than ever before. First, comes the compromise, a choice between the quality of food over the cost of the food. 

With the economic landscape being as it is, it”s causing many of us to suffer and look beyond our means to survive. We find ourselves heavily relying on food banks that are working hard to provide relief, but the sad reality is that generally, food pantries are filled with expired dried goods and canned items, lacking the needed nutrition of fresh foods, like Vegetables, Fruits, Meats, and Dairy products. 

This is where you come in . . . 

If you are in the position, look into the local food pantries to see what they need and how you can help. If you don’t have the time or means to donate actual food, considering donating to the Organization so they can continue to invest in the food security of the most impacted by COVID-19 in our community.


There are multiple opportunities within our communities to volunteer with great organizations doing work for others. 

  • Animal Shelters are always looking for help to maintain the quality of care and love that the animals receive while in their care. 
  • Food Pantries
  • Meal Delivery to disabled folks and elders.

Send Postcards or Letters to Residents in Nursing Homes

These times have been some of the loneliest for people of every age, and due to this isolation, everyone’s mental health has been impacted. The most isolated and at-risk members of our communities are undergoing what is already an emotionally distressing time of change–our elders in nursing homes. 

This particular service means a great deal to me personally, a few years ago, I had the privilege of being asked to live with my 93-year-old Great Grandma so she could remain in her home for as long as we could because that’s what she wanted. 

I consciously made a decision that it would be one of my greatest regrets if I didn’t spend this time with my Grandma, but I had to take my time to come to that decision. To make that choice, it had to come with the knowledge that I would most likely be the one to find her when she passed. I chose to move in, knowing this, embracing the time I had with her for the gift that it was. 

We grew closer, and I was graced with the opportunity as a young adult to learn from the experiences and stories of my Great-Grandma. She was almost blind and hard of hearing, but she lived as independently as possible, teaching me family recipes, telling me generations of stories, and giving me love. (Even showing me how to host a proper dinner party!) 

More than ever, we are in need of connection- some folks living in nursing homes have to live without the comfort of their own home or to even have the ability to host family and visitors due to the jeopardy within their high-risk community of getting COVID-19. That’s why it’s so important for us to reach out, to connect, to know that we are here for them. 

Having a human connection is important to us all, let’s be sure not to leave anyone in our beloved community behind.

Help the Homeless

Folks who are homeless don’t have access to the things that we cherish the most. A home-cooked meal, a hot bath, and a clean bed with a roof over our heads. Job, home, and food security become a constant struggle, and when all of these things that are so important to us are taken away, it devastates the community, because when one human right is ignored, many losses soon follow, as they are all interconnected.

Reach Out to a Friend

Call an old friend, send a message to someone that’s been on your mind, check in to see how they’re managing.  The mental health of ourselves and our loved ones is so important, and even though we aren’t able to unite in person, there is no reason to lose our bonds and suffer in our isolation.

The above options were just a few of several ways all of us could be in the service of others, today and going forward in the future–towards recovery and healing.

In summary: “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris know that you’re committed to serving your community in 2021!” 

Please consider joining us and others in volunteering and look through the vast library of opportunities to be in service to your communities with us. 

I will leave with you a challenge: leave a comment with other great ideas to help our community thrive!

Chelsea Anderson is the Communications & Digital Strategist for Progress North

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