Martin Luther King, Jr. Day presents a good opportunity for parents to teach kids about strengthening community through acts of service. It is a lesson that is all the more emphasized when parents participate in volunteer activities with their kids. MLK Day is January 15 and Portland is filled with volunteer opportunities to honor his legacy! So pull on the gardening gloves, hairnet, or tool belt, and read on to find out where you can gather with the community to make a difference!

photo: Melania via Flickr

Stock the Oregon Food Bank
Help keep our neighbors fed by repacking and sorting donated food with the Oregon Food Bank. Volunteering with kids at the food bank helps connect them with a deeper understanding of food insecurity, and how we can come together as a community to feed each other. Because no one should have to go to school on an empty stomach, or struggle to sleep at night without having had a nutritious meal.

Ages 6 and older with an adult. Youth waiver required.

Sat. Jan. 13
9 – 11:30 a.m. or 1- 3p.m.
7900 NE 33rd Ave.
(503) 282-0555
Sign up online:

photo: Oregon Food Bank

Restore Habitat at Powell Butte
Oregonians of all ages love our beautiful parks! Kids of all ages are welcome to come play in the dirt, rebuilding and restoring the trail and fence systems, removing invasive species, and of course, searching for bugs! Wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt and sturdy walking shoes. Bring a water bottle, and weather-appropriate clothing. Instruction, tools, gloves, water and treats provided.

Ages 1 and older with adult. 16 and older without an adult. Youth waiver required.

Sat. Jan. 13
9a.m. – Noon
16160 SE Powell Blvd.
(503) 823-6131

photo: Susan McGee via Facebook

Help with the Fort Vancouver Book Sale
The Fort Vancouver book sale offers donated or no longer needed library books at incredibly low prices, with all of the proceeds going to support critical programming that keeps kids reading! Kids and grown-ups will re-stock books as needed, help shoppers find books, count books for cashiers, and break down boxes.

Ages 8 and up with adult. Kids over 16 can be unaccompanied. Youth waiver required.

Sat. Jan. 13
Shifts from 8:30a.m. – 6p.m.
1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd.
(360) 906-5000
Sign up online:

photo: Barney Moss via Flickr

Salvage Building Materials with the ReBuilding Center
Teens will love this hands-on experience! Instead of demolishing old structures and sending waste to landfill, the ReBuilding Center deploys their DeConstruction crew to mindfully take apart structures piece by piece, salvaging about 85% of the parts! Older kids and parents can volunteer to pull nails and process salvaged lumber, which then gets used to make tiny homes for the houseless and other projects. Wear closed-toed shoes, grubby clothes, and dress in layers (it can get cold!). Work gloves and safety glasses are provided.

Ages 14 and up. Youth waiver required.

Sat. Jan 13 or Sun. Jan 14
10a.m. – Noon
3625 N. Mississippi Ave.
(503) 331-9291
Sign up online:



Clean Up SnowCap Community Garden
Let’s dig in and help clean up the SnowCap Community Garden to get ready for the new growing season! This garden directly benefits neighbors in East Multnomah County, allowing them to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Volunteers will be involved with weeding, removing yard and garden debris, and pruning. Be prepared to get dirty and maybe muddy! Bring work gloves, water to drink, and any favorite yard tools you might want to use.

Ages 1 and older with adult. Youth waiver required.

Mon. Jan. 15
10am – 2pm
17805 SE Stark St.
(503) 674-5355
Sign up online:

photo: d-olwen-dee via flickr

Potluck in the Park
Free, hot meals aren’t always as easy as “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?” Potluck in the Park has been serving a free hot meal to anyone in need since 1991. Meet up with an incredible team of volunteers to serve 400-800 Portlanders at Waterfront Park, beneath the Hawthorne Bridge. This is a great opportunity for older kids to have an immediate impact within the Portland community, and to establish a lifelong habit of helping others. Email with any questions.

Ages 12 and older. Youth waiver required.

Sun. Jan. 14
2pm – 4:30pm
Waterfront Park, under the Hawthorne Bridge
(503) 789-1246
Sign up online:


photo: Potluck In The Park

Put Down Roots in Tualatin at Ibach Park
Any friend of trees is a friend to me! Join the City of Tualatin and Friends of Trees for a fun morning in the fresh air planting native trees, shrubs, and other pollinator friendly flowers along Nyberg Creek at Ibach Park. Tools, gloves, and snacks will be provided. Curiosity and a desire to get digging is up to you!

All ages welcome. Youth waiver required.

Mon. Jan. 15
10455 SW Ibach St.
(503) 691-3087
Sign Up Online:


What is your family’s favorite way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

— Kelli Martinelli