Supporting our local community, even in the smallest way, can make a big difference. Investing in our community doesn't have to cost a lot or take up significant amounts of time. New to getting involved? It can be easy, and it is never too late to start! Here are 10 ways to give back:
1. Find a Cause to Support
There are many different causes and charities you can choose from to support. Whether you want to volunteer your time to a local food bank or make a monetary donation, either way makes a difference. To find local opportunities in your area, visit www.volunteermatch.org and get matched with a cause that inspires you! This website allows you to choose from over 100,000 participating charities, including organizations that support local arts or work with children or elderly individuals.
2. Donate to a Holiday Food Drive
The holiday season is quickly approaching, which also means many local businesses, grocery stores, schools, or community centers organize food drives. These typically ask for donations of unopened, non-perishable canned or boxed food items to donate to local food banks. Either look through your pantry and find items that you could donate or simply purchase a few extra items the next time you are out and about grocery shopping. It may not seem like a lot to you, but these food drive donations can make a difference in someone else’s life. If a local business doesn’t have a food drive, you can always search for your local food bank by visiting a site like www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank and making a personal donation directly.
3. Support Local Farmers
Have you ever been to your local farmer’s market or farm stands? Attending and making a purchase is a great way to give back to the hard-working farmers in your local community. Items sold could include fresh produce, meat, jams, salsa, and much more. You may not be able to get everything you need for your grocery hall, but even buying one thing helps support their farming business directly. If you aren’t sure where to find your local farmer’s market, you can visit hwww.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets.
4. Donate Blood
Right now, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, giving the gift of life through a blood donation is as important than ever. You may have local blood drives hosted by your employer, community center, school, etc. However, if you are not able to find a local blood drive, you could always visit www.redcrossblood.org and register for a donation. Normally, it takes around an hour to give blood. If you choose to give platelets, the process is about 2 hours. Plus, after you give blood you can enjoy refreshments and snacks!
5. Set Up a Collection Jar
Every penny counts! If you are looking for something smaller to do, think about setting up a collection jar at a local business where people can give their extra change to give back to a cause of your choice or someone in need. There are organizations who have already created collection boxes that you can pick up and display on a countertop or create your own.
6. Volunteer at Your Local Senior Center
Volunteering at your local senior center is a great way to become involved in your community! Often times, these places need volunteers to help with different programs or activities. Even just stopping by to say hello, read books, or play games means the world to these residents. You can also sign up to become a volunteer by visiting www.elderhelpers.org/ for the seniors in your community who aren’t in an assisted living facility, but need help with daily activities.
7. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister
Do you think you would be a great mentor for a child in your community? If so, consider joining a community-based mentorship program like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. These programs are designed to be an important part of changing the lives of our youths who are in search of role models to help them feel more connected to the community. Your local area may also have a similar program, so check with your community page on social media or the city hall for more information about how to join.
8. Donate to a Charity
Donating to a charity of your choice is a great way to give back! Before you make a donation of money or goods, make sure to research the charity. Be certain that the charity is real. There are different types of donations you can provide that include financial donations, goods or personal property, vehicles, or other property like art, jewelry, or real estate. Whatever the donation may be – big or small – makes a difference. To learn more about donating to a charity, visit www.usa.gov/donate-to-charity.
9. Organize a Community Clean-Up Day
A great way to give back to the community is by cleaning up your community. A lot of times, community clean up days are at local parks, but they can also be cleaning rivers, in the ditches alongside the roads, etc. This makes for a more welcoming environment and allows you to connect with those around you. Not only will your neighbors thank you, but the environment will too! #Didyouknow many businesses allow their employees to take a personal day to volunteer in the community? Check with your employer to see if this is option.
10. Write a Letter to Our Troops
There are so many men and women who have dedicated their lives to be a soldier in the US Army. They are often recognized for their service, but what if you could make a difference by writing a few kind words to life their spirits through a letter? Through a nonprofit called Operation Gratitude, you can write personal letters of appreciation to deployed troops, veterans, recruit graduates, first responders, frontline responders, or wounded heroes and their caregivers.
There are countless ways that you can become involved in our community and give back, beyond the 10 ideas listed above. To get started, find something you are passionate about, research how you can become involved, and make it happen. Giving back is often highlighted during the holiday months but make it a goal to become involved year-round.