Each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sonoma Ecology Center organizes volunteer efforts in Sonoma Valley as part of the nationwide MLK Day of Service, held in honor of that great American who told us that “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.”

Part of the local MLK Day tradition involves Sonoma Valley residents, and especially the Valley’s youth, helping to clean up Nathanson Creek Preserve. And this Monday, Jan. 15, will be no different, with several young people meeting at 9 a.m. that morning at the Nathanson Demonstration Garden at the corner of East MacArthur Street and 2nd Street East.

Patrick Willis, a Sonoma Ecology Center restoration specialist and regular MLK Day organizer, noted that two of the youths, whom he mentors, are taking the volunteer effort a step further by doing much of this year’s organizing themselves.

“I’m really proud of Timothy O’Sullivan and Dylan Samaniego,” he said. “This is a senior project for them, and it helps take the burden off our Restoration Department while we work on keeping toxic ash out of the Sonoma Creek Watershed.”

All are invited to join the youths for this year’s MLK Day volunteer clean-up by meeting at the Demonstration Garden at 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 15. Volunteers will work until 1 p.m. picking up trash along Nathanson Creek. Food and refreshments will be provided afterwards thanks to the generosity of Whole Foods. For details on where to meet and what to bring, please see our MLK Day of Service calendar listing.

Also on Monday, Jan. 15, Sonoma Ecology Center is hosting an MLK Day of Service event at the one and only Sonoma Garden Park, where volunteers will further King’s vision of a healthy and connected community by helping out in the winter garden.

The “Give Back to Your Garden Park” event promises to be a fun and inspirational day, with locals banding together for the benefit of this important community gathering place. Volunteers will meet at 10 a.m. and work until 1 p.m., helping to trim raspberries, prune and paint fruit trees, spread mulch on pathways, and share in the sights, sounds and fragrant smells of Sonoma in wintertime. This event is family friendly, and no gardening experience or training is needed. Tools and gloves will be provided, although volunteers with their own pruners and loppers are encouraged to bring them.

The city-owned Sonoma Garden Park is located at 19996 7th St. East in Sonoma. For questions on this event, contact Garden Park coordinator Sorrel Allen at 707-996-0712, ext. 107 or at sorrel@sonomaecologycenter.org. This event is free, but registration is preferred by going to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3225662. Please see our calendar listing for full details.