Wilmette, Community

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday. Events in Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe and Highland Park help you get involved in his name.

Families looking to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory on Monday, Jan. 15, can do so through a number of service opportunities around town. 


Radical Generosity Chicago, Betsy’s Blankets & The Woman’s Club of Wilmette
No-sew blankets, comfort bedding kits and toiletry kits

Once again Radical Generosity Chicago, a local nonprofit, is partnering with the Woman’s Club of Wilmette, offering both onsite and at-home opportunities to support unsheltered individuals. 

On-site projects (10 a.m.-1 p.m. Woman’s Club of Wilmette, 930 Greenleaf Ave.): For those preferring an on-site activity, the doors of the Woman’s Club Wilmette will open at 10 a.m. on Monday. Once again RGC and The Woman’s Club ask for guests to pre-register with this link, allowing families to prepay for materials needed to make fleece blankets, and/or to register to bring items for comfort kits. These items will ultimately be donated to Betsy’s Blankets, another local nonprofit that donates the blankets to those in need. 

At-home projects (due on Jan. 16): For those looking to work on a project at home, follow this link to register to assemble toiletry kits or to make fleece blankets for unhoused individuals. Read carefully for explicit instructions as to where to drop-off the items, prior to Jan. 16

President of the Woman’s Club Joann Dinneen shared her pride over hosting a meaningful activity on such an important day.  

“It is wonderful to see so many moms, dads, middle- and high-school volunteers come to the club and quickly get down to work, making warm blankets for those who need it most. We provide space, but we give all credit to RGC & Betsey’s Blankets who distribute the warmth,” Dinneen said. 


Winnetka Youth Services & Backyard Nature Center
Cutting Buckthorn

Skokie Lagoons in Glencoe (10 a.m.-noon): Glencoe Youth Services is partnering with the Backyard Nature Center to take service work to the great outdoors. The event is promised to be a fun workout, as volunteers will use brush cutters and hand saws to cut down invasive buckthorn. Seasoned experts will also oversee a bonfire to celebrate all of the volunteer’s hard work with s’mores. The event is for students in grade 4-8. 

Volunteers must pre register and can do so here.

Executive Director of GYS Michelle Rosenthal said the event is reflective of the organization’s overarching commitment to service. 

“Each month, we participate in a service event and we couldn’t be more excited to take our goodwill to the fields,” she said. “Not only are we helping the environment, but we are also partnering with a great organization. The volunteers will get fresh air and remain active throughout the morning, which is something we can all use at this time of year.”


Volunteer Center NE Metro Chicago & The Winnetka Community House
Numerous projects and clothing drive

Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.: The event is an annual program for the Winnetka nonprofit, and the Volunteer Center’s new executive director, Bridget Lewis, is excited for her first MLK day as the group’s new leader.

“We will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by bringing the community together to support local nonprofits including: Grace Network, Holiday Heroes, Orphans of the Storm, North Shore Senior Center and Night Ministry,” she shared, adding, ”This year, we will also collect socks for the unhoused.”

Volunteers are asking participants to bring 4 yards of fleece fabric and scissors to make no-sew blankets and new socks for the unhoused. Other projects will benefit veterans, orphaned animals, the unhoused and hospitalized individuals.

In addition, the newly added VC Junior Board, composed of students in Grades 6-8, will also oversee projects. For more information, email info@volunteercenterhelps.org.

Highland Park

City of Highland Park, Human Relations Advisory Group and Park District of Highland Park
Numerous projects and clothing drives

15th Annual MLK Day Event (drive-thru donations 9-10:30 a.m., activities 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Recreation Center of Highland Park, 1207 Park Ave. West): This longstanding tradition in Highland Park provides a full morning of meaningful activities. Kicking off the event, the HP Police Department Honor Guard presents the colors and North Shore District 112 students lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Nancy Rotering and Park District of Highland Park Board President Terry Grossberg will address the crowd. Guests will then enjoy a speech on health equity, and then Highland Park High School musicians will add a festive flair to the day.

After all that, guests will convene within the recreation center at 1207 Park Ave West to work on a variety of charitable projects. The morning will conclude with a performance by Ravinia Festival’s Reach, Teach, Play.

Amanda Bennett, communication manager for the City of Highland Park, shared her views on a day beloved by so many residents and guests from neighboring towns as well. 

“The day is an accessible, family-friendly event that gives our guests a variety of service projects to choose from in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s wonderful to see so many families view the holiday as a day on rather than a day off,” Bennett said, also noting that this year, the drive-through donations will occur before the presentations.

Click for a list of items requested for donation. For more information, contact Christina Earle at cearle@cityhpil.com.


Glenview Public Library, Kindness Rocks!
Painting motivational messages and making blankets for a pet shelter

Library’s Community Room East, 1930 Glenview Road, 2:30-4 p.m.: Help spread joy and kindness this Martin Luther King Day by painting cheerful and uplifting rocks to join the Glenview Public Library’s Kindness Rock Garden, or put together blankets to help four-legged friends at a local pet shelter. The event is a drop-in and open to the public. 

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Alexa Burnell

Alexa Burnell is a Wilmette resident who has been covering the North Shore for the past seven years, previously for The Wilmette Beacon and its sister newspapers.

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