“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

Those might not be the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous words, but they are certainly impactful ones. Twenty-five years ago, Congress designated King’s birthday, observed as a federal holiday the third Monday of every January, as a national day of service. It remains the only federal holiday to be observed in such a way.

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Across the country, groups organize to volunteer efforts, often referred to as “A Day On, Not a Day Off,” to complete service projects to better their community or learn more about King’s dedication to service. Unfortunately, no such event has been organized in Carroll County for Monday in honor of King.

There is, however, an upcoming opportunity for youth who want to serve. On Sunday, Jan. 27, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. local Lions Clubs will have the first countywide Roar Like a Lion Day, held at each of the six branches of the Carroll County Public Library.

Last year, Vicki Mahr of the Roaring Run Lions Club organized an event at the Finksburg library that saw a large number of young volunteers turn out. They delivered First Responder Appreciation Bags to local fire companies and law enforcement agencies, made homeless care packages that were distributed by law enforcement in Westminster to people in need, and the children created more than 500 cards to be delivered to hospitalized veterans and children, among other projects.

Evan Gillett, 22W First District Governor, said he was impressed with last year’s turnout. “We often hear about how today's youth does not want to get involved in service projects, but last year's Roar Like A Lion proved that was wrong because the youth of Carroll County were there in force to do the work,” he told us.

That is, perhaps, a good sign for the future, that the spirit of service embodied by Dr. King is alive and well in our young citizens.

Nationwide, statistics from a 2016 survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service and released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that only about a quarter of Americans volunteer. The survey of about 60,000 individuals age 16 and older, defined volunteers as people who said they did unpaid work through or for an organization.

Perhaps some folks want to help, but don’t know where to start. For young people, an event like the Roar of the Lions is a good place. For adults, service clubs like the Lions, the Kiwanis and the Rotary are always looking for new members. A local church, whether you are a member of the church or not, is also a good place to start.

There are also countless nonprofit agencies and organizations around Carroll County that are in need of volunteers. In fact, many of these groups rely on volunteer hours to achieve their mission.

It could be working in a soup kitchen once a week, helping stock shelves at Carroll County Food Sunday, volunteering to stay overnight at the Cold Weather Shelter, building homes with Habitat for Humanity or being a tutor for a youth organization.

The library maintains an online database of organizations in the county at community.carr.org, many of which are nonprofits in need of volunteers. Perhaps you have a specific interest or area of expertise that you think could help. Search those terms in the community directory to find an organization that fits those skills or interests.

Even if you’re not sure how much time you can offer, even an hour a month could be a big difference maker to some of these groups. Time is precious, which is why it means so much to give any of it you can to serve your community.

Remember, anyone can serve. To serve, according to King, “You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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