Why not add volunteering to your New Year’s resolution list? The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to start volunteering, or to find new ways to make a difference in your community. Not only does volunteering connect you to the people closest to you and to others in your community, it can also improve personal health and happiness levels. Giving back can be as big or small a commitment as your time allows, but it’s always time worth spending. Here are everyday ways you can start making a difference this year:
Give What You Can
1. Run or Walk for a Good Cause
There are races, walks and fun runs for almost every cause imaginable. Visit Active for lists of charity walks near you, or Running in the USA for local races. Mobile apps like Charity Miles also let you raise money for your favorite charity, giving back with every mile you run or walk
2. Donate Your Hair
Help bring confidence and smiles to children who are suffering from hair loss, whether from alopecia, chemotherapy, or other conditions. Grow out your hair for a new look, then donate inches to Locks of Love.
3. Save Your Coins
Children do it, and so can adults! Having a jar to collect loose pocket change and coins can add up into an unexpected sum of money in time. After a few months, count your savings and donate it to your favorite charity.
4. Give Blood
A decision to donate your blood has the potential to save a life, or even several when your blood is separated for patients with specific conditions. Connect with your local blood bank or the American Red Cross to find out how to donate in your community.
5. Donate Electronics, Furniture and Household Items
Companies like eBay are making it easy to give back. By selling old or unwanted electronics and household items, the eBay for Charity program connects users with their favorite charities with the option to donate proceeds from any sale to a cause that matters most to you.
6. Find a New Home for Old Books
Want to clear your bookshelf to make room for new purchases, or declutter your home? You can give your books a new home while helping others by donating them to a local school, library, or literacy organization. Or, consider creating a Little Free Library in your neighborhood!
7. Make the Most of Spring Cleaning
Now is the perfect time to clean out your home and simplify. Any clothing or household items you no longer need can be donated to a local charity. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and the Salvation Army even offer pick-up services for larger pieces of furniture.
Show Love to Your Neighbors
8. Cook or Bake for Others
Food is an easy way to everyone’s heart. Do you have a neighbor who needs some extra joy in their life? Try baking them some cookies, or bring them a home-cooked meal. Burn everything you try to cook? No problem, just pick up something from your local bakery.
9. Read to Children
Do you love to read? Ask local elementary schools, libraries or daycare centers if they are in need of volunteers to read to children. You can do what you love, promote literacy skills, and bring joy to kids in your community.
10. Tell a Soldier Thank You
We can’t say thank you enough to the men and women who serve our country, but we can try! Writing a thank you note to a soldier is an easy way to give back, such as Operation Gratitude, or consider sending books or care packages to military personnel stationed overseas
11. Collect and Give Box Tops
Box Tops can be found on hundreds of products inside grocery stores. Take the time to look at your groceries for any Box Tops, clip the ones you find and send them to your local school, where they will be collected and turned into cash to support the school.
12. Deliver a Meal
Nearly 9 million seniors in America face the threat of hunger, and many live alone facing feelings of loneliness and isolation. By volunteering with Meals on Wheels on your lunch break, you can help seniors in your neighborhood and bring them an extra source of joy.
13. Share a Smile
When you smile, you instantly uplift others! Plus, smiling can reduce stress and activate the smiles in the people around you. Trust us, the world wants to see you shine.
Improve Your Community
14. Embrace the Green Movement
Make a conscious effort to start recycling more, by placing an additional waste basket near existing trash can in your home or office. Don’t forget about batteries, paint and medication that may need to be disposed in a particular way. And, to conserve resources (and save some extra money!), try unplugging appliances you know you won’t use in the near future, and remember to turn off lights before leaving your home.
15. Use that Green Thumb
Community gardens have many benefits. Creating a garden in your town is a great way to reduce food insecurity, increase physical activity through garden maintenance activities, and increase fresh fruit and vegetable intake for your household.
16. Support Local Businesses
Finding ways to support local businesses is a great way to give back to your community and show the ones around you that you support them. When you shop small, purchases become more meaningful and you help encourage growth in your home community.
17. Become an Ethical Shopper
More than ever, large and small brands alike are taking stands on important issues of the day. Take the time to research stores and brands to find places to shop that align with your values and the causes you care about.
18. Foster an Animal
Animal shelters are frequently overpopulated with homeless cats and dogs. Don’t have the ability to adopt? Consider fostering an animal from your local shelter, providing them temporary love and comfort until they find their forever home.
19. Find volunteer opportunities in your community!
Visit All For Good to get started.