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Community-Based Service Projects

Date: Donations are accepted Monday January 25 through Saturday January 30 at noon at any drop-off location.

Each year during the MLK Jr. Human Rights Week Celebration, we come together through service projects to serve our community in meaningful and tangible ways, alongside local non-profits. This year, the service opportunities will consist of five parts. Community members can assemble a literacy kit, donate to a week-long food and basic needs drive, create an emergency care kit, donate at the Hy-Vee donation drive event, or initiate youth-centered acts of service.

Questions? Contact Lindsey Meyer at lindsey-meyer@uiowa.edu.


Project 1: Literacy Kits

Literacy Kits are simple crafts that you can assemble at-home independently or with your household, and they contain a children’s book and an activity related to the book to make reading fun for early elementary-aged children.

Materials packets will be provided at each drop-off location, can be completed at home, then returned to a drop-off location. The completed literacy kits will later be distributed to at-risk children to give access to books and increase their ability to reach reading milestones- the most important predictor of a child’s future success.

Logistics: You will be able to pick up the materials starting January 20, or at any local drop-off location starting January 25, and you may return the completed project to any of the local drop-off locations through January 30 at noon.

Update: The Iowa House Hotel front desk in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) began handing out literacy kits starting 1/20, and they are now out of kits.  Please pick up from another location starting Monday, January 25. See "Drop-off locations and literacy kits" below.

The Coralville Hy-Vee location also will not have literacy kits for pick-up.

All materials will be included in the provided materials packet except markers, packing tape, and scissors which each household will need to use their own.


Project 2: Week-Long Food and Basic Needs Drive

Throughout the week of celebration, donations will be accepted to benefit local food pantries. Donations may be dropped off at any drop-off location throughout Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty from Monday, January 25 through Saturday, January 30 at noon

The Iowa City donations will go to the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Pantry at Iowa, Coralville donations will go to the Coralville Community Pantry, and North Liberty Donations will go to the North Liberty Community Pantry. Please see an attached list of donations that each site is in need of; this is linked below within the list of drop-off locations.


Project 3: Emergency Care Kits

Emergency care kits contain basic items that an individual who is escaping a violent environment will need. You and/or your household can donate a fully or partially assembled kit of some basic necessities that will be donated to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) and Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) of Iowa City.

Emergency care kit donations can be dropped off at any drop-off location throughout Iowa City, Coralville, or North Liberty throughout the week of January 25-30.

Materials to include in an emergency care kit include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo, especially Black haircare products
  • Hypoallergenic Soap
  • Laundry Soap
  • Period Products
  • Toilet paper
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (i.e. Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen)
  • Diapers
  • Burp cloths
  • Deodorant
  • Socks
  • Gift cards (i.e. chain restaurants, gas stations, Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Mastercard, Visa)

Drop-Off Locations & Literacy Kits

There are 6 drop-off locations throughout Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty in which community members can drop off donations for the Week-Long Food and Basic Needs Drive, emergency care kits, and where they can pick up literacy kit materials.

The donations collected in each community will be given to their respective community pantry. Check the list of drop-off locations and designated needed items in each community below:

  • United Action for Youth, Youth Center - Clock Tower Plaza, 355 Iowa Ave.  Iowa City, IA
  • New Creations Church - 2929 E Court St. Iowa City, IA 
  • Mercer Park Aquatic Center - 2701 Bradford Dr. Iowa City, IA
    • Mercer Park open 6am - 5pm Monday through Friday
    • Lobby inside the main entrance
  • Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa House Hotel Front Desk - 125 N. Madison St. Iowa City, IA
    • IMU location open 7am - 5am daily.
    • Please use the western entrance on the south side of the IMU
    • Update: The Iowa House Hotel front desk in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) began handing out literacy kits starting 1/20, and they are now out of kits.  Please pick up from another location starting Monday, January 25. See "Drop-off locations and literacy kits" below.

Donations made in Iowa City will go to the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Pantry at Iowa.

Please read the list of needed items below:

Donations made in Coralville will go to the Coralville Community Pantry.

Donations made in North Liberty will go to North Liberty Community Pantry. Please read the list of needed items below:


Project 4: Hy-Vee Drive Event

On Wednesday, January 27, from 4:00pm - 7:00pm, Iowa City Hy-Vees are teaming up to serve the Food Pantry at Iowa and CommUnity Crisis Services. A list of needed items will be provided to shoppers upon arrival, and donations may be given on-site during this time at each of the First Ave, North Dodge, and Waterfront Hy-Vee locations.


Project 5: Youth Acts of Service

Date: January 18 - January 30

We encourage youth and the community at large to commit acts of service and/or learning in honor of Dr. King. Even when we can't gather together, we can still serve our community together, separately. If you choose to use your MLK Day to serve your community, please share your photos with us using the hashtags #MLK2021 and #ServingTogetherSeparately.

Check out the list below for some tangible ideas to serve your neighborhood and community - or create your own!

  • Snow Removal 
  • Pick up trash in neighborhood/park
  • Bake treats for neighbors 
  • Take snacks to cold weather shelter 
  • Write a letter to a politician about a change you would like to see 
  • Take in a neighbor’s trash can 
  • Apply to volunteer at local nonprofit 
  • Take an anti-racism online course 
  • Read up on Dr. King and share that knowledge online
  • Watch a speech of Dr. King’s but one you haven’t heard before
  • Write a thank you letter to a teacher or faculty member that has gone above and beyond this year