The early day of service began at the Boys Latin Charter School. Neighbors handed out 1,500 fire safety bags.
"We never want to miss an opportunity to serve other people not just on MLK Day but on any day," said Crystal Morris, Hope Worldwide.
Hope Worldwide, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and the Red Cross, went door-to-door, providing and installing smoke detectors for underprivileged seniors.
"An opportunity for firefighters to go into a residence and help them to get their fire protection together," said Commissioner Ayers.
Across the city, at the African-American Museum, a much different tribute to the civil rights leader played out on the chess board.
More than 200 children played against each other and Congressman Chaka Fattah took on six himself at the same time.
What does MLK Day have to do with a chess game? Organizers say it promotes education, something that Martin Luther King Jr. was all about.
"American students need a better capability to critically think, not just memorize," said Congressman Fattah.
"I think the spirit of the event is keeping the legacy of Martin Luther King going," said Justin Ennis, After School Activities Partnerships.
Organizers from ASAP say Family Chess Day proves to kids that chess is a safe alternative to violence.
"It's about coming together and setting aside your differences across the chess board," said Ennis.
That's something that high school student Daquane Bond learned 10 years ago and it has changed his life.
"Chess is like a whole new world when you play. You see a whole bunch of people you've never seen before, a lot of faces, a lot of races," he said.
For his day of service Bond says he is simply passing his chess knowledge to other children, one check-mate at a time.