On Jan. 15, communities across the Philadelphia region will join with others around the country to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this national day of service, and the days following, build on Dr. King’s legacy by volunteering your time and talents to strengthen our communities and serve our brothers and sisters in need.

Volunteer time at a Catholic Social Services Ministry

One of the best gifts we can give is the gift of ourselves. A great way to show support can be through volunteering time to one of Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) many charitable ministries in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm is the largest and most visited food pantry in Montgomery County. Whether supporting their Norristown Marketplace by creating meal kits and delivering goods or going ten miles down the road to Audubon and assisting with the Community Farm, Martha’s Choice is always in need of new volunteers. Located in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia, Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy provides bilingual, full-service, early childhood education to children between the ages of three and five. Consider becoming a classroom helper to aid teachers with daily activities for the students.

Contribute financially

Do you want to give back but do not have the time to volunteer? Consider making a financial gift that can provide necessary support for those in need. The Archbishop’s Benefit for Children (ABC) is a year-round fundraising initiative that provides vital support for CSS programs designed to care for children and young people in need throughout the Philadelphia region. They provide help and create hope for thousands of children each year, including children with disabilities, at-risk children, and dependent or court-adjudicated youth. Nutritional Development Services’ (NDS) Community Food Program supports a network of 50 food cupboards including five food cupboards operated by CSS, five soup kitchens, and numerous community outreach programs. Even the smallest of donations can assist in purchasing resources to benefit individuals facing food insecurity.

Prepare a hot meal

Gifts in kind are also a great way to give back to the community at this time of year. A home cooked meal can be a wonderful gift. CSS offers stability and hope to thousands of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness through residential programs including Saint John’s Hospice and Mercy Hospice. Donated casseroles are the “main course” of a complete, hot meal prepared daily for program residents. CSS works in partnership with the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia to support pregnant women, new parents, caregivers, and families at the Cenacle at the Padre Pio Center. The facility provides the opportunity to sponsor a community meal on the first Thursday of the month. This includes buying, preparing, and serving the meal on-site.

Share your skills and talents

Another way to change and touch people’s hearts this year is by sharing your skills and talents with others. As part of its continuum of care to older adults, Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) operates four senior community centers throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region. CHCS provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities including guiding and engaging older adults to experience and learn new skills such as an iPad coach, art teacher, gardening companion, and more. Family Service Centers are the first point of contact for individuals, families, and parishes when they seek assistance from CSS. Through providing job skill assistance to one of the five centers, your help can immensely improve the lives of our neighbors in need.

Donate supplies

The gift of giving can take place from the comfort of your own home. Organizations may have particular items of need that can be obtained through online shopping. St. Edmond’s Home for Children, an Intermediate Care Facility for children with severe and profound intellectual and physical disabilities, includes a comprehensive “Wish List” on their site detailing the specific needs of the facility. Items range from immediate necessities including bedding and clothing to other fun supplies for the children such as crafting and baking.

For additional ways to get involved and give back throughout the year, consider visiting places such as Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where there are even more opportunities to donate or to volunteer.