“…the ability to work together to understand each other will not be ready made; it must be created by human contact.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Sunday January 16th, the day before the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day, the HandsOn Network is spearheading a campaign to gather folks from all different walks of life to simply share a meal together. Dr. King recognized that in order for people to work together effectively for real, enduring change, they must get to know one another, and not just in the context of volunteering or protesting, but also outside of it. They needed to be together socially. After all, the young men who helped to desegregate the lunch counters didn’t just win the right to eat wherever they pleased. They won the freedom to eat with people of all different stripes. We all received the opportunity to break bread and learn about the lives of others we had been legally barred from dining with.

In honor of Dr. King’s legacy, host a meal for members of your community who are service minded. It doesn’t even have to be in your home . You can also reserve a table or two at a restaurant of gather everyone at your favorite coffee shop. And let people in your area know your plans by registering your Sunday dinner at the HandsOn event page. You can invite others to your dinner or you can let people sign up for open spots through the website.

There are several hoped for outcomes for all of these communal meals. The first (and most obvious) is to build a sense of community amongst neighbors, which in large cities like New York is quite unusual. Many of us don’t even know our neighbors names even if we’ve lived next door for years! And hopefully, once everyone is gathered the table and satiated, the conversation about how to improve our communities through new ideas and programs can begin. If you’re interested in organizing your own Sunday supper, check out the HandsOn Network’s easy to follow guide, which can be downloaded here.

If you can’t attend a dinner on the Sunday the 16th, you can watch a streaming, live broadcast of the Hands On sponsored one, which will feature service leaders representing different religious and ethnic groups from all over the country. It will be filmed in front of a live studio audience so no laugh or applause track is needed.

In addition to the Sunday Supper, there are many other exciting programs and service opportunities for MLK weekend so make sure to check back here and over at Hands On.