Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the service of helping those who suffered discrimination of every form obtain equal rights in the U.S. It was his devotion to that cause that inspired the late Congressman John Lewis and late Senator Harris Wofford, allies of MLK, to introduce the King Holiday and Service Act.
This legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 made the MLK federal holiday a "day on, not a day off" to encourage American to participate in activities that help the community at large. It is the only federal holiday that is designated as a day of service.
The call to action for MLK Day, which will be commemorated on Monday, January 15, is one that TD Bank colleagues have taken to heart. Throughout the bank's footprint from Maine to Florida, colleagues are volunteering and participating at events, including participation at the International African American Museum's "IAAM KING: A MLK Day Celebration" in Charleston, South Carolina. The event features a parade and remarks to honor MLK, along with a celebration with music, food trucks and vendors. TD is also a sponsor of the Boston Children's Chorus Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute concert on Monday.
"Caring for our communities with a focus on inclusivity and empowerment is something that is deeply embedded into our culture at TD," said Shelley Sylva, TD Bank's Head of US Corporate Citizenship. "We know that people and businesses across America are facing unprecedented economic challenges; 56 years after the death of Dr. King, Black communities are still bearing a disproportionate share of these challenges. It's clear there is much work to do as we pave the way toward equity and sustainable economic growth for all."
Among the events for MLK Day is TD's sponsorship of free admission to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Monday. The center is hosting events to honor MLK's lifelong dedication to justice, equality, and service for the greater good, including financial education classes presented by TD Bank volunteers.
"It speaks volumes when you think about the day of service and the concept that's behind it," said Ricardo Carrion, TD Bank Retail Manager for the Philadelphia region and an organizer of the event at the National Constitution Center. "It has always touched me. Bringing up my kids in the city of Philadelphia, we've always looked for ways to be involved and active. It's a way to give back to the community. It's a way to represent the dream that MLK had - to work alongside other people and trying to give back to the community as much as possible."
A special day at the National Constitution Center
"Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” - Martin Luther King Jr.
The MLK Day event at the National Constitution Center will feature many programs to help the community, including the TD presentation on financial education and a school supplies drive. It will also include a reading of Dr. King's "I have a Dream Speech."
Although, the federal holiday is a paid holiday for bank colleagues, when the opportunity to sign up for the event through the bank's internal Ready Commitment volunteer site for 20 spots, it filled up immediately, according to Geoff Brandon, TD Bank Commercial Market President in Pennsylvania, who will be attending the event.
"We were absolutely certain that we would easily fill all of the volunteer positions for this event, because our TD colleagues are highly engaged," Geoff said. "They care and they are committed to the community. Whenever we ask for people to help, they raise their hands and say, 'I'll be there.'"
For Richard Graham, TD Bank Store Manager in Philadelphia, the opportunity to volunteer at the event has a particular resonance for MLK Day.
"Teaching financial education during MLK Day of Service is a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy," Richard said. "Dr. King believed that social inequality was largely derived from poverty. He was a proponent of financial education and achieving financial independence. I believe the fastest way to uplift people from poverty is to teach them how to save, budget, and promote healthy spending habits."
The TD Ready Commitment reflects bank's focus on helping communities
TD has a long-standing commitment to enriching the lives of its customers, colleagues, and communities. Through the TD Ready Commitment, TD aspires to link its business, philanthropy and human capital to help people feel more confident – not just about their finances, but also in their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world.
"There is no shortage of need, and the call to serve grows louder every day," Shelley said. "I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far through our corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment; it is our hyper-local approach to giving and volunteerism that allows us to develop meaningful relationships with community partners who are close enough to the issues at hand to help guide our steps. But I'm even more proud of the TD colleagues who enthusiastically give their time and expertise to uplift others and open doors for opportunities - not only on this day of service, but all year long."