January 18th marked the Martin Luther King Day national holiday, and the day designated a national day of service as a way of honoring Dr. King's life and legacy.

National Day of Service has been recognized by Congress since 1994, but it may have been truly popularized last year when President Obama, on the eve of his inauguration, re-declared the day and provided energy and resources toward getting people involved in the service of helping others.

Though the day has passed, the need for our service continues year-round. Service, for a day or over time, can be a very meaningful way for family and community members to come together in the act of doing something for others.

Last year, our family spent a day serving at Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, CA. With a group numbering a few dozen people, we raked and cleared dirt paths and cleaned moss and mud from between the planks of the boardwalk that leads into the park. Rangers told us this is something they do twice a year. It felt great to help them and this treasure of a national park, and to contribute our efforts to a stunning, natural place that so many visitors enjoy and that happens to be near our home. Muir Woods and the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy have web pages where one can find volunteer opportunities year-round.

The National Park Service also has a page where you can search for volunteer opportunities at national parks around the country.

There is no shortage of opportunity to help people, animals, and land everywhere with trail maintenance, habitat restoration, food, building, mentoring, and otherwise committing some time, energy and goods. A great place to research service opportunities of all kinds is the serve.gov website, which offers information by locality.

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