Guest Author - Aimee Wood
Giving back to your community can be a great way to not only help those in need, but it makes you feel good! Philanthropy doesn't have to require writing big checks to charities. Volunteering can be simple and easy. These ideas only require some of your time.
1. Pick up trash at a park. Earth Day should be every day, not just one day at the end of April. Out for a walk with your dog? At the park with your children? Why not pick up some trash while you take a stroll? If you are part of an organization you could even organize a group to meet at a park and pick up some trash. Weigh the garbage so children can see what impact littering has on the earth. Not only are you helping your community, you are setting a good example for your children.
2. Serve meals to the homeless or hungry. Nearly every community has church organizations or non-profits that feed the less fortunate on a regular basis. Oftentimes, they need someone to help serve those meals. Contact local churches and see if there is a need for people to help prepare or serve meals.
3. Donate household items to a local thrift store. Instead of collecting your old items and having a yard sale, donate the items to your local thrift store. Big Brothers and Big Sisters is an organization that will pickup your unwanted items. These groups will take clothing, household items, furniture, toys, etc. What is one person's trash, is another person's treasure. Clean out your closet and give!
4. Start a drive. A group of you and your friends could host a drive to help local schools, pet shelters, or local food pantries. Before the school year starts, schools will have drives to collect school supplies. Pet shelters always need food, blankets, and supplies to support their cause. And, food pantries are always in need of non-perishable food. Contact those local organizations and see what they need, organize your friends, and go from there. If you are short on time, be mindful of the bins in the front of grocery stores that often collect items for the needy. Sometimes you will see stores collecting for school supplies, food, and toys.
5. Check on elderly neighbors. See if your neighbor needs help around the yard or the house. If you don't have any elderly neighbors, volunteer your time at a local nursing home or an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, some elderly are desperately needing companionship. Your time and interest would mean so much.
Keep in mind that having your children participate is a huge bonus! Summer time is a perfect time to get them into the routine of giving back. Plus, you will be instilling values in them that they will pass along to future generations. It is a win-win situation.