01/14/2015 06:27 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2015

MLK Day of Service, A Golden Parenting Opportunity

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't just walk the talk. He marched it with dignity, clarity of purpose and enormous courage. (If you haven't yet seen Selma (PG13) take your teens and go!) We all talk a good game about raising kids who are judged well by the quality of their character. Those results don't come from casual parenting. They are achieved by clearly demonstrating to our kids that we walk the talk in our own lives.

So, what are you doing on Monday? It's Martin Luther King Day. Your kids are out of school. Maybe you also have the day off. How about making it a day on instead? Think about it. Instead of just talking about kids needing to develop leadership skills and a sense of social responsibility, we could all spend part of Monday in service to our community. Yeah, we could.

Funny thing. We all want to live in a community where people care about their neighbors -- not only when we're in desperate need, but every day. After all, the every day stuff is what makes up your life, and mine, and the lives of that family across the street.

There are countless ways to show we care and most of them are ridiculously simple. Like noticing that kid nervously waiting on the corner when you come to a stop. What does it take to pause, make eye contact with him, smile and let him know he can cross safely in front of your car? An extra minute? Probably not even. And how about that woman in the parking lot who is searching for something on the ground? What does it take to ask if she's lost something and could use another pair of eyes to help find it? A moment and a little effort. When we do things for each other it says that ours is a caring community. When we don't it says something else.

Monday, January 19, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and since 1994, when Congress actually had a great idea and the will to act on it, MLK Day has been a National Day of Service. If you are interested in moving beyond shaking your head to doing something to make your community a more caring place, go to Click on the MLK Day Quick Links to register a MLK Day Project or to type in your zip code to Find a MLK Day Volunteer Opportunity.

What can you and your kids do for your community? Find out what's needed and where. It's all good. It all helps. Start here.