Today is the 30th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday.
Leading up to this milestone, the King Center in Atlanta has been celebrating more than a week of events highlighting this year's theme: "Remember! Celebrate! Act! King's Legacy of Freedom for Our World."
The focus on freedom is especially meaningful, said King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, because 2016 also marks the 50th anniversary of her father going to Chicago to highlight the need for open and fair housing.
In honor of King's vision and mission, his national holiday has become a day of volunteerism.
The value of volunteering: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) reports that in 2014, more than a quarter (25.3 percent) of U.S. adults volunteered through an organization.
That percentage translates to 62.8 million Americans who volunteered 7.9 billion hours that year, the last for which data is complete.
Based on the Independent Sector's estimate of an average $23.07 value for each volunteer hour, the estimated value of volunteer service in 2014 reached nearly $184 billion.
Since 2002, Americans have volunteered almost 105 billion hours, estimated to be worth more than $2 trillion.
The tax value of volunteering: Most volunteers give of their time because they support the cause and organization. That's commendable and a good approach, since the value of volunteer hours is not tax deductible.
But when you give money in addition to hours to a nonprofit, you might be able to deduct your financial donations, as long as you follow the tax code's charitable giving rules.
And, according to CNCS, volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Nearly 80 percent of volunteers in 2014 donated to charity, compared to 40 percent of non-volunteers.
Finding a charity to support: There are numerous charities that honor Dr. King's vision.
The Southern Center for Human Rights, based in the civil rights leader's hometown of Atlanta, works to enforce the civil and human rights of people in the criminal justice system in the South.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights, headquartered in Los Angeles, is dedicated to protecting the rights of impoverished, abused, and neglected children.
The Washington, D.C.-based SOME (So Others Might Eat) seeks to break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment and counseling, to the poor, elderly and individuals with mental illness.
Jobs with Justice, also in the nation's capital, works to improve workers' standard of living, job security and right to organize.
If these nonprofits are not near you or you're looking for another organization with which to spend this National Day of Service, Serve.gov's online search tool can help you find an opportunity. Also check out Charity Navigator's tips on researching charities before you invest your time.
Whatever group you choose to support through your cash or time, thank you. And remember, you can volunteer more than just today.
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