Most of us want to make a difference in our communities. At the start of each year, we take a look at ourselves and consider things we should start doing, vices we should stop doing, and ultimately make a list of resolutions. Unfortunately, this list starts to fall by the wayside as the month’s press on, but making a difference through charitable contributions, be it through volunteering or by sending a check to a philanthropic organization should hold strong through the year. The following list is comprised of ideas of small and big things you can do throughout the year that would truly make a difference in your community.
Donate your stuff
As the weather warms up this year, you’ll probably do a bit of spring cleaning around your house. While you deep clean your home, consider getting rid of anything you don’t necessarily need anymore. Maybe you have an old sofa that rarely gets used or boxes of your children’s old clothing they haven’t been able to wear for years. Rather than holding on to these possessions, give them to a charity in your community. The old couch you have might make a great addition to a charity that helps people transition from homelessness, and the children’s clothing is always welcomed at shelters for women and children.
Help with wish lists
While you’re donating your old belongings to charities in your area, talk to the office to see what items are on their wish lists. Most charities have a list that has everything they need to acquire in order to keep helping individuals like cleaning supplies, bedding, or food. If you have the means, get ahold of one of these lists and get to shopping. The charity will be eternally grateful for any help you can provide them, and these items allow them to keep their doors open and focus their money on projects.
Use your professional skills
As a working professional, you have invaluable information about building a career, even if you don’t think so. For those seeking employment, they often turn to organizations within their own community that help with career development. Within these organizations, they help individuals build a resume, learn networking skills, set up professional profiles, and help with interviewing. Contact your local career development center to see if they need help setting up seminars or coming up with informative packets to hand out to people who come in.
Help the elderly
Our elderly citizens are often overlooked when it comes to serving the community. Unfortunately, some elderly men and women who live in nursing homes don’t get as many visitors as others and are alone with the exception of other residents and the staff. Sacrifice a few hours a month to visit a nursing home in your area and you’ll see the positive effect it has on someone’s life.
America’s small businesses are the backbone of the community and buying from them only strengthens the economy of your area. When you pick up your prescription from a local pharmacy or buy products from your local hardware store, the money you spend goes directly to the families that own the business and they can reinvest it back into the community. Oftentimes, the allure of the big box stores is their ability to offer discounts and low prices, but the money is best spent in local companies that keep the whole community going.
Volunteer for a hotline
Hotlines are incredibly useful tools that help save countless numbers of lives throughout the year. There are many different hotlines across the country each for a different cause like suicide prevention, child abuse, addiction, or even just as a place to talk to someone who will listen. These hotlines are often answered by volunteers who care enough to talk to people who need to talk. If this sounds like something you can handle, contact the organization you’d like to volunteer at so you can make a difference in the lives of people who are in a crisis situation.
Pay for a student’s lunches
Going without food is a terrible idea, but unfortunately, it’s a true reality for many children in communities across the country. Save money throughout the month by limiting the amount of money you spend on food out and contribute that money towards a student’s lunch debt. Students whose parents can’t afford to pay for lunches or are behind on their payments can be denied lunches from the school. Call a school in your community and offer to pay the debt for a student or several students so they don’t need to worry about not having a meal in the middle of their day.
Pick up trash
Keeping our communities clean helps everyone feel more comfortable and keeps the environment as healthy as possible. Take a plastic bag with you whenever you visit a park or even just walk around the neighborhood. Getting litter off of the streets and into the garbage will help keep it away from the community’s water supply or wildlife in the area.
Being an active member of your community by adopting one or multiple ideas on this list will definitely make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most.