8 Ways To Give Back To Your Community

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Volunteer!

This one seems obvious enough, right? There are always lots of places looking for volunteers. From working with kids at an after school program to helping to facilitate an event, the opportunities to help out and volunteer a few hours of your time are plentiful. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly talented, you may be able to help a someone (or several people!) learn a new skill, It just takes a phone call and a little patience.

Double Your Next Batch

Next time you’re baking for a family or work event, consider doubling your batch and bringing the extras to a local police station, veteran club, senior home or soup kitchen. You’re already baking your specialty anyway, and all it usually takes is a few extra scoops of flour and sugar! There are plenty of places out there filled with hard-working people who will appreciate your skills!

Make New Friends At The Shelter

Animal shelters are almost always looking for extra help, and volunteering has never been so cute or rewarding. While there might be some unglamorous tasks, on occasion, you’ll also get to spend some quality time with some loving, adorable animals, and nothing beats that!

Organize A Clothing Sale

Ask locals to donate clothing and accessories, and re-label them for reasonable resale prices. Donate all the proceeds from the sale to a local charity and then give any of the remaining unpurchased clothes to a local shelter.

Paint A Mural

Consider organizing a mural painting somewhere in town. There’s bound to be a blank wall that could use a little beautifying somewhere along your daily route. Gather a few friends, approach the owner with your idea, and see about making a masterpiece that everyone can enjoy!

Share Your Pet

Your pet makes you smile and can be very therapeutic, so maybe they can make someone else happy too! Consider bringing your pet to a local senior center, veteran’s club, or hospital to bring some joy to the residents. Of course, this may not be the right choice for every pet or every location, so be sure to consider the demeanor of your pet, the needs of the patients, and the policy of the site before you try giving back in this way.

Tutor The Community

We’ve all got something we’re good at, and if you’re lucky enough to be good at long division or skilled in Spanish conjugations, consider sharing your smarts with local students. Many schools and afterschool programs would be happy to take on a volunteer to help students improve.

Visit Local Seniors

Senior Centers will almost always take volunteers, and usually, all they ask of you is to give your company. It’s often as simple as saying hello and listening to some beautiful stories. Maybe a fun round of cards or bingo? You can also read to them, run a dance or art class, give residents manicures… whatever! It’s all about spending time together, that’s what matters.

How to Make a Meaningful Donation Without Spending Any Money

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As paradoxical as it may sound, you can make a meaningful donation without spending a dime. Monetary donations may be the most popular and immediate form of charity because of the universal buying power of money. However, if you’re someone who likes to give back even when you have very little money to give, do not despair. There are plenty of donations you can make that don’t require any money, and they’re just as meaningful. Here are some other ways you can give:

Rewarding Experiences

Volunteering is the most obvious answer to giving to charity without donating money, but it is also one of the most effective. Giving of yourself (your time, your labor, your skills, your compassion) is the most meaningful donation there is and will get you up-close-and-personal with the causes you support. Not to discourage monetary donations in any way, but with volunteering, you get to see the fruits of your labor. In contrast, with a monetary donation, you may feel good knowing that your money is playing a part in a more significant cause, but you don’t usually get to see it. It gets lost with all the other donations. Volunteering allows you to form a personal connection with a cause that’s close to your heart. If you’re passionate about helping the homeless population, volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, and see their faces light up when you treat them like a person. If you love animals, volunteer at the shelter. If you’re good with children, volunteer to read to children in hospitals or schools, or serve as a mentor through a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

The internet makes it even easier to volunteer, with sites like VolunteerMatch connecting people to volunteer opportunities in their communities. You can also give your time from the convenience of home by simply surfing the web. You may have skills that are in high demand, and you can employ them without even setting foot outside your house through the website Skills for Change, by helping nonprofits meet challenges they face through applying skills like copywriting and graphic design. It’s easy to implement charity into your everyday internet activity as well; for instance, conduct your searches using GoodSearch instead of Google, and it will donate a penny to charity every time you perform a search. Tabs for a Cause raises money for charity with each new tab you open in your browser. Apps like Freerice and Charity Miles make donating fun and empowering, as Freerice gives 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for every question you answer correctly through their games. Charity Miles donates 10 cents to charity for every mile you run using the app.

Got Junk?

If you opt to donate that old jalopy, it’s nice to know that most centers offer free pick-up, running or not, from a location that is best for you. Instead of throwing away junk or letting it sit in storage, taking up space, and collecting dust, put your unused items to use and donate them to a charity such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart, or a local nonprofit charity shop. Most nonprofits will be able to take just about anything you can think of, from clothes to books to appliances. It can be hard to part with anything that has sentimental value, but if you haven’t used it in over a year, ask yourself what good there is holding on to it and know that there is someone out there who could benefit from it.

Donating Blood

If you are healthy and able, donate your blood to someone whose health depends upon it. If you can, find a blood drive to go to, or if not, you can always make an appointment with a blood donation center. Some centers even allow you to donate platelets and plasma as well, which aid in cancer and organ transplant treatments. The need for blood exists all the time, so don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you. There are a few qualifications you have to meet to be eligible to give blood, such as weighing at least 110 pounds, and not suffering from any illnesses. But if you meet them, giving blood is a beautiful, selfless act of volunteerism that has the power to save lives. Health benefits of donating blood include good health and reduced risk of cancer and hemochromatosis. It also helps reduce liver and pancreas damage. 

Donating Hair

In my experience, donating your hair is a much more personal gift than sending a check. You’re sending a piece of yourself to someone who suffers from long term hair loss. You’ve probably heard of organizations like Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids that donate your chopped-off hair when you get a haircut (rather than throwing it away) to make hairpieces for patients suffering from hair loss due to illness or medical treatments. But, you should know that not all hair can be donated. Hair that’s been colored, bleached, or chemically treated can’t be donated, nor can hair that is more than 5% gray. The minimum length requirement to donate your hair is 10 inches, but if your hair is long enough, this is a great way to help someone in need with no additional cost.