Jan. 18 was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many of you likely had the day off in honor of the accomplished civil rights leader and were able to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

    But did you know that federal legislation has challenged Americans to transform this holiday into a day on? In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a proclamation encouraging Americans to use their time off to volunteer. Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” To answer that question, Americans around the nation have been coming together on this holiday to serve their communities. Though we live in such a fortunate valley, it is important to remember there are always needs to be filled. As Marianne Williamson once said, “In every community there is work to be done, in every nation there are wounds to heal, in every heart there is the power to do it.”

    We decided to work on meeting the needs of this valley by becoming AmeriCorps members. The AmeriCorps program is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and is meant to inspire community service through our nation. Since its launch in 1994, more than 900,000 members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours of service, confronting issues such as public health and safety and environmental protection. Check out AmeriCorps and other programs at www.nationalservice.gov.

    We work with the youth in the valley, teaching and inspiring future earth stewards. However, to honor Dr. King, we used this opportunity to branch out and volunteer with other local organizations, including Souper Supper, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and the YMCA. Many local organizations are dependent on the help of volunteers to provide their services to the community. It is truly a rewarding experience, making a positive difference in the lives of others, and there are endless opportunities to get involved here in the valley. If you are interested in volunteering, here are just a few additional organizations that could use your help: The Advocates, the Environmental Resource Center, Higher Ground, the Crisis Hotline, The Hunger Coalition, Wood River Land Trust, Sawtooth Botanical Garden, St. Luke’s Wood River, Girls on the Run, Sun Valley Institute for Resilience and Camp Rainbow Gold. All it takes is a quick Google search and you could be on your way to making a difference in your community. No need to wait until the next National Service Day either—every day is an opportunity to improve the lives of others.

Elisha Mueller and Emily Burke live in Hailey.

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