Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as a “day of service,” an opportunity to celebrate the holiday by volunteering in your community. This year, the Washington Post decided to commemorate the holiday with a special section on what volunteers do.

What I thought was interesting about this section was the sorts of activities volunteers perform. The Post profiled numerous people who are doing interesting and useful things that only volunteers can do. Here are some of the volunteers the Post wrote about.

Retired psychologist Craig Provost spends every Sunday at the Intermountain Medical Center in Provo, Utah holding premature babies. As an official “baby cuddler,” Provost holds infants for a long time. Research shows that newborn babies grow stronger if they get a lot of touching in their first weeks.

Peter Steckelman also volunteers at a hospital, the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. In 2006, Steckelman survived lymphoma through a “harsh treatment regimen” that included chemotherapy and radiation. He decided to help children who were fighting cancer, and for 10 years has spent his Sundays spending time with kids. He would “engage with them—playing, watching TV or a movie, doing crafts, coloring, whatever the kid wants to do.”

David Plazas, an editor for the Nashville Tennesseean, comes into the office a little late every Wednesday morning after reading to kindergarteners at the inner city Buena Vista Elementary School. He decided to volunteer in the school after a series in his newspaper reported that only 30 percent of Nashville third graders were reading at grade level. Plazas asks the kindergarteners what he wants to read and then they spend some time reading and coloring together.

What do these stories show? These are people who aren’t sitting in phone banks or engaging in political protests. Their volunteer work consists of the small but necessary things that make life better and strengthen civil society.

Read the full article about volunteering is necessary for civil society by Martin Morse Wooster at Philanthropy Daily.