Tween Time: A Day of Service for Los Angeles Teens

By Michael Berick

los angeles teens

The Alta Vicente Reserve offers a volunteer opportunity with a great view. PHOTO COURTESY PALOS VERDES PENINSULA LAND CONSERVANCY

Some kids might think of Martin Luther Day Jr. Day, which this year falls on Jan. 15, as just another day off from school. Others, however, consider it a “day on” for volunteering. MLK Day, which became a federal holiday in 1983, also was designated a National Day of Service in 1994. While people of all ages can participate, the holiday presents a particularly good opportunity for tweens and teens to develop an interest in volunteering and community service that they can continue into adulthood.    

Good deeds combine with fresh air when you spend MLK morning at the Alta Vicente Reserve (31290 Palos Verdes Dr. W, Rancho Palos Verdes). From 9 a.m.-noon, volunteers will remove invasive weeds and replace them with native, drought-tolerant plants. For this outdoor work, sunscreen, closed-toe shoes and a reusable water bottle are recommended. This volunteer experience can count toward school service hours. More details and registration information can be found at 

The local community service organization Big Sunday (6111 Melrose Ave., L.A.) will hold its sixth annual MLK Day Clothing Drive from 9 a.m.-noon, with hundreds of volunteers gathering to count, sort and fold several thousand pieces of donated clothing that will be distributed to people in need. Everyone can enjoy a big breakfast, too. Visit to learn more, including which items of clothing are most needed.  

Like Big Sunday, LA Works ( has volunteer opportunities throughout the year. On Jan. 15, however, they will do a beautification project at Lincoln High School (3501 N. Broadway) starting at 9 a.m. Lincoln played a major role in L.A.’s Civil Rights history because it was the site 50 years ago of a student walk-out protesting discrimination against Mexican-American youths in schools. Kids ages 10 and older can participate in this cleanup effort with parental consent (although parents must accompany children under 14 years old).

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