Check out these opportunities to serve the community in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.

Image courtesy Getty Images

Volunteer Opportunities

Make Care Kits for Portlanders Experiencing Homelessness.
Blanchet House, which serves 2,000 meals a day to homeless Portlanders, is asking for care kits they can hand out to our houseless neighbors. Assembling care kits is something even toddlers can help with! Find out what to include in winter care kits here.

Join the Downtown Portland Cleanup Movement with Solve
SOLVE will host a cleanup event at Irving Park. This event is open to youth and adults. Ages 13+ may attend without a chaperone.
January 16, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.


Make Cards, Pack Food Sacks or Host a Food Drive for Portland Backpack
At six school locations, Portland Backpack serves 1,000 kids weekly. Each food sack or gift-card envelope includes a love note. Your family can create and donate any amount of notes on 4″ x 6″ cards — a fun activity for all ages. You can also host your own packing event or pack food sacks at home. Decide how many kids you want to feed, then purchase the food needed using the Portland Backpack food list. 

Repair Children’s Books to be Donated to Kids who Need Them.  
We love volunteering with The Children’s Book Bank to repair books to prepare them for a new home.  Learn how to sign up for a session here. Ages 10+.

Pack a Bag for the Portland Food Project.
Fill a green bag with nonperishable food every two months and put it outside your front door. That’s it! This is an easy and ongoing commitment to practice with your kids from home. The Portland Food Project is also looking for Neighborhood Coordinators who pick up donors’ green bags every two months on a predetermined Saturday and bring them to local food banks.

Donate Food.
Donate nonperishables to a local food bank like Neighborhood House in Southwest Portland or SnowCap in Fairview. Both accept food donations; you can check their websites to see what they need most. 

Help Plant a Nature Patch with Portland Parks and Recreation.
Nature patches are spaces within existing parks that are enhanced with natural elements for people and wildlife to enjoy. With PP&R staff, volunteers add Pacific Northwest plants, logs, boulders, paths and learning elements to underused areas to encourage people to play and explore. You can sign up to help plant a future nature patch here.

Join the City of Tigard’s MLK Weekend of Service.
A variety of volunteer events are scheduled all weekend long, from ivy removal to packing food boxes.

Spruce up Tualatin Library
This event is open to volunteers as young as 5 years. Under age 13 must attend with a chaperone.
January 14, 2023, 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Plant Trees with Friends of Trees in Durham
Volunteers ages 6+ are welcome to join in this community beautification project.
January 14, 2023, 8:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Plant Trees in Honor of BIPOC Community Members Who Lost Their Lives to COVID-19
This meaningful Vancouver event is open to volunteers ages 3+.
January 16, 2023, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Restoration and Reflection
Participate in reflective conversations and activities in addition to restoring the habitat at Foster Floodplain. They will provide hot drinks, snacks, gloves, all necessary tools and even bus fare to and from the event.
January 16, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Chimney Park Tree Planting in St. Johns
Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle; all other supplies will be provided.
January 16, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

For more opportunities to serve, go to the Hands On Portland Calendar, or check out our roundup of Kid-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities.

Community Events

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration in Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego will host a celebration at Lake Oswego High School to honor Martin Luther King, Jr, including speeches, live music, poetry readings and ending with a car rally through Lake Oswego. To participate in the car rally, come with your vehicle decorated with quotes by Dr. King or messages promoting a non-profit organization that advances the legacy of Dr. King.
January 15, 2023, 2:00 pm.

King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis at Hollywood Theatre
Watch this monumental documentary with your family, covering the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from 1955-1968.
Cost: Free with reservation
January 16, 3:00 p.m.

MLK Day Celebration Our Forward Stride at Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg
This free program includes free snacks, a multimedia presentation and an interactive program including discussion and reflection.
January 16, 2023, 5:30 p.m.

Passing the Torch – Still We Rise at Highland Christian Center
This program is hosted by the World Arts Foundation, preserving African-American contributions in American culture since 1976.
January 16, 2023, 1:00 p.m-4:00 p.m.

MLK Storytime and Talk at Sunrise Books
Celebrate the legacy of Dr. King with your little one at this charming bookstore.
January 16, 2023, 12:00 p.m.

Stream 16 MLK Films for Free
Multnomah County Library is closed on Monday, but they are highlighting 16 powerful videos about the life and legacy of Dr. King. Stream for free on the Kanopy app.

Believe: The 13th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration
This Vancouver event is hosted by iUrban Teen and includes breakfast and a musical performance by grammy award-winning a cappella group Take 6. Early bird tickets start at $55.
January 16, 2023, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

The Skanner Foundation’s 37th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast
Back in-person this year, the event will include speakers and musical performances. Individual tickets start at $95.
January 16, 2023, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Scroll to Top