There’s probably no better way to adhere to a New Year’s resolution than by providing volunteer service to your community. The cities of Palmdale and Lancaster have for many years abided by that spirit, therefore the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Season of Service in both communities provides a worthwhile opportunity for residents to pitch in, roll up their collective sleeves and contribute their time and effort toward a benevlent endeavor.

Palmdale will get started on a variety of community improvement events on Jan. 16 with its Adopt-A-Block event in partnership with the Palmdale Dream Center/New Image Church. All residents are invited to help beautify the community one block at a time with registration taking place from 8 to 8:30 a.m. at the Palmdale Dream Center located at 38518 5th Street East. The work will begin shortly after registration ends.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the city will partner with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to notify residents about how they can inform homeless individuals and families about the many services available. Specifically, officials want to inform residents about how they can assist this growing population find the necessary resources to help them move toward permanent housing, obtain food, learn about job training/opportunities.

Officials in both cities contend that these efforts are vitally important particularly as the weather heads toward a cold, rainy period for the next few months. Stop by the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, 38350 Sierra Highway, from 9-11 a.m. to register.

On Jan. 28, the annual Antelope Valley Homeless Count will take place and will be conducted in partnership with the LAHSA and the Antelope Valley Homeless Coalition. This event is designed to document the number of homeless individuals/families within the Antelope Valley region and it is considered an important step toward obtaining local funding and program development to assist the local homeless community. Volunteer registration sites will vary, but there is a list of locations available at www.cityofpalmdale.org/servicedays. Expect to register early—from 5 to 6 a.m.—with the actual project beginning at 6 a.m. sharp.

“The number of events and the number of residents who are engaging with our community continues to grow,” said Trish Jones, Palmdale community services supervisor. “We have designed the ‘Season of Service’ to offer service projects for residents to join . . . as well as to provide resources and information so that residents may develop their own projects.

“Last year, Palmdale residents donated more than 40,000 hours of service toward making the city a “better place to live,” Jones said. She added that there is no specific minimum number of hours required of each participant, noting that every hour donated is valuable. “All it takes to volunteer is a willingness to give, an interest in your community, and your time,” she said. “There’s practically no limit to how you can get involved.”

The Global Youth Service Day Planning Event will take place on Feb. 10. This event is in conjunction with Youth Service America/State Farm and will also be headquartered at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center. Check in between 6 and 8 a.m. to help plan the April 2016 Global Youth Service Day and discover how local young people can help make a difference in their community.

Spring Cleaning: Airport Edition is scheduled Feb. 20. Taking place in what is widely regarded as the “aeronautics capital of the world,” this event is a partnership with the Palmdale Adopt-A-Plane group will focus primarily on preparing the Airpark for another season of visitors from around the world. Registration will take place between 8 and 8:30 a.m. at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark, 2001 East Avenue P. The project will begin shortly after 8:30 a.m.

A second “spring cleaning” event will take place on Saturday, March 5. This time South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) will be the beneficiary because the city will partner with Advancing Communities Together (ACT) and New Image Church. The idea is to spruce up and maintain the popular SAVES youth center which provides many wholesome, uplifting services for area teens and young people. Students from AV YouthBuild will be on hand to assist with the project. Registration will take place from 8 to 8:30 a.m. at the SAVES headquarters, 1002 East Avenue Q-12 with the project commencing shortly after registration concludes.

The Hammock Neighborhood in Palmdale will be part of a second Adopt-A-Block event, scheduled for Saturday, April 12. Community partners include the Palmdale Dream Center, ACT and New Image Church. Registration is set for 8 to 8:30 a.m., with the exact location for sign-ups announced at a later time.

Global Youth Services Day will continue on Saturday, April 16 and be conducted in partnership with State Farm and Youth Service America (a nationwide resource network that encourages community volunteerism). Registration is set between 8 and 8:30 a.m. (location to be announced) with the project scheduled to begin shortly before 9 a.m.

On Saturday, May 4, a Stamp Out Hunger event will take place at the SAVES headquarters. Staged in partnership with the United States Postal Service, this is the 23rd year that postal carriers in their various communities nationwide will partner with residents to collect food for local food banks and other charitable organizations. Individuals can leave food out for the carrier to collect or take items to selected collection spots. For a complete list of locations to donate food items, visit www.cityofpalmdale.org/servicedays.

Volunteers under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. All participants must complete a release of liability agreement which may be accessed at www.cityofpalmdale.org or at any of the preceding event locations.

Jones reminds residents that if they’re not certain of what event they would like to participate in, “just give us a call at (661) 267-5473, and we can help you identify your areas of interest.”

For more details about the Palmdale Season of Service, you may also contact personnel online at www.cityofpalmdale.org/Engaged.

In Lancaster, volunteer registration is in progress for the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service scheduled for Jan. 16.

Dozens of activities are scheduled that day; many projects are in progress now and some will occur during the weeks after Jan. 16. Volunteers have the option of signing up for Jan. 16 activities, and projects throughout the week, or both.

This year the highlight of the service day activities will be an environmental project targeting illegal dumping. Jointly coordinated with the Lancaster Parks, Recreation and Arts, and Development Services departments, the project hopes to accomplish objectives established within the city’s Illegal Disposal Grant which itself is focused on reducing the number of illegal dumping sites and to eliminate hazards that may immediately affect public safety. The grant has helped to develop a program that uses a combination of site maintenance, outreach, education, and targeted enforcement measures to prevent illegal dumping.

Lancaster MLK Day of Service is designed to offer individuals, families and organizations an opportunity to plant trees, paint fences, clean up parks, serve food to the homeless, improve schools and even build a community garden. Volunteer opportunities are available on a “first-registered, first-matched” basis.

To volunteer for any of the Lancaster MLK Day of Service activities, visit the city’s event webpage at www.cityoflancaster.org/mlkday. For more details, call (661) 723-6077 or visit mlkday@cityoflancasterca.org.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service was the brainchild of the late Coretta Scott King. As founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the widow of the famous Nobel laureate envisioned not only the Atlanta, Ga., center to be a place for human endeavor, but that his memory would be celebrated by succeeding generations as one of volunteerism, self sacrifice and assistance to the community.

She often cited her husband’s many quotes in encouraging others to serve their brethren—no matter what color, creed or religion—as the best way to remember the civil rights icon, husband, father and, above all, gospel preacher. Among King’s most famous quotes related to community service are: “Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” “Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.” In 1967 King commented in a speech: “It is a tragic mix-up, when the United States spends $500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only $53 annually on the victims of poverty.”

Since its inception in 1994, the MLK Day of Service has inspired hundreds of thousands of Americans to come together in marking his birthday as the start of a “year of action.” Each year, citizens in all 50 states have delivered meals, refurbished schools and community centers, and collected food and clothing. Volunteers often recruit mentors, have supported job-seekers, have built homes and have provided other services for veterans and military families. These volunteers also assist citizens improve financial and literacy skills.

Last year in Washington, D.C.—and in big cities and small towns across the nation—leaders from organizations like the Peace Corp, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Trade Representative assist local organizations that work throughout the year to help the less fortunate.

Volunteers nationwide often attest that King Day is not simply a “day off,” but rather an opportunity to provide service to your community. These volunteers each January throughout the spring provide tools and resources for organizations and individuals to become engaged in service activities to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the federal holiday; this includes utilizing grants to organizations to support volunteer projects across a state or throughout a multi-state area.

Two decades ago, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading the effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. The event is actually a byproduct of United We Serve, a call issued by former President Bill Clinton to encourage all Americans to work together to provide solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing problems.