Presents are great, especially when you get something you really love. As I have said many times here on the blog gift giving is my primary love language, so I understand the importance of a good gift. But there are also times where maybe you aren’t really doing presents, and what you really want to concentrate on is giving back.
Whether you are giving back to loved ones or in a broader sense, like to your community, you may not be completely aware of what your options are. That is why I wanted to share some ideas here on how you can give back.
One of the most meaningful and impactful ways to give back is being present and giving of your time. Ironically this often the hardest thing to do for many of us. When it comes to how you do this for the people you love, only you and they know what will really be a meaningful way to show up for them. But let’s talk about ways you can give time to help your community.
A great way to serve your community would to be volunteering some time in soup kitchen. Of course if you are living in a smaller town you may not have a soup kitchen, but perhaps a local church or food bank may offer some sort of community meal for those who are less fortunate. Organizations doing this type of work will vary from town to town. But one organization that has soup kitchens is nationwide, the Salvation Army. Not all Salvation Army locations have soup kitchens, but most in middle to large sized cities will.
Perhaps you are more of an animal person, or maybe you are just an introvert. Did you know you can become a volunteer at an animal shelter? There are lots of ways to donate your service to animal shelter, all depending on your time, ability, and experience. But there is something for everyone to do. Like food banks, the organizations in your area may vary by name. But in most of the US you will have either a Humane Society or an ASPCA close to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to any of your local shelters to see what kind of help they need.
Maybe you really love children, and you feel like your time would be best served by working with them. There are so many kids out there that need good role models in their life. Sometimes it means nothing more than just spending time with them and listening to what they have to say. You can give this much needed support to a child in need by signing up to be a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program.
If none of these are quite right for you, and you don’t really know where to volunteer in your community there is help. Check out the website Volunteer Match to find the opportunities that are right for you.
Many of us may want to volunteer our time, but because of various reasons we can’t. But I am willing to bet that almost all of us have things lying around our house that we no longer want or need. Things that are just taking up space. Rather than tossing that out or getting ten cents for it at a yard sale, why not donate your clutter?
There are lots of places like thrift stores, community outreach centers, abused women’s shelters, missions, churches and homeless shelters nationwide where you can donate new and used clothing as well as household goods. There will always be local places that are specific to your town, but there are absolutely national services that are accessible to most people in the US, and in some cases across the world.
Here is a brief list of some of the most accessible organizations to donate to:
To find out where you can donate locally a simple google search should help. Please keep in mind each place will take different items and have different requirements for what they accept. If you have not donated to a place before always call ahead or check their website before just dropping items off.
There are of course other things you can donate, outside of clothing and home goods. Lots of places take food donations for those in need. One of the biggest and wide spread food banks in my state is God’s Pantry. To find out where the closest food bank is to you, you can check with Feed America. In addition to food banks most soup kitchens and some churches will take food donations.
I often hear people talk about how they want to make a difference in the world, but they don’t know how or don’t feel capable of doing anything big enough to make a difference. I just wanted to give everyone a reminder that while it may not feel like a big thing to you, sometimes even the smallest things feels huge to someone who has nothing. And small things can have big impacts.
In fact if you want to see more of the impact you are making, try helping one family or one person rather than going through a big organization. Many small organizations will let you adopt a family to help. Or you most likely know someone in need and don’t even realize it, maybe even someone you care about. Many people are too embarrassed or too proud to ask for help. In this country we are taught from a young age that we should be independent and its shameful to ask for help. But many people do need help.
So you might ask how do you help someone who won’t say they need help. I know it seems unproductive, but you can do it. Some options might be just asking if they would like some help. If you are going to donate things, perhaps make a post on social media asking if anyone wants to take a look at the items before you donate them. Where there is a will, there is a way. But I think the easiest way to make an impact for the people you care about is to just let them know you care and that you are available if they need you.
And this is me letting you all know I care about you. How can I help?