Today our pastor talked about giving to others, and it inspired me to write this post. Below you’ll find some very simple things you can do to help others. It is by no means all inclusive. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section as a way to inspire others.
Helping the schools
- Peel off any Campbell’s soup labels and donate them to your child’s school. If you don’t have young children, consider giving them to a friend who is a teacher, someone with a school aged child, mailing them to the school you attended as a child, or dropping them by a school in your neighborhood.
- The same goes for Box Tops for Education. These are small squares that can be found on a wide range of products (maxi pads and copy paper to yogurt and vegetables). The Box Tops are usually worth about 10cts each, and they have an expiration date.
- Ask your local grocery store if you can link your loyalty card to benefit a school. Locally, Ingles offers this as an option.
- Donate any extra school supplies you have to your child’s teachers. Ask them what needs they have in their classrooms and watch for deals and freebies that might coincide.
- Many people do not realize that Medicaid and for that matter many other insurances does not cover basic toiletry products and incontinence pads. If you have freebies such as shampoos and a few samples of pads that you might have received for free, drop them by a nursing home in your area. I recommend that you give them to the activity director or social worker who will in turn make sure they get to a resident who may not have any family to bring him or her those items.
- Have extra magazines and large print books? Drop them by the activity director’s office. Be sure to call first to make sure they need these, but most of the time they are very happy to have those donations.
- Activity directors are also happy to receive craft supplies that you might have cleaned out of your home or scored for free with a coupon.
- Have a wedding coming up? Years ago when we were married, I remember sending some of the arrangements from the reception to a nursing home that I had volunteered at during college. I took such delight in thinking about the residents enjoying those beautiful flowers! Random Acts of Flowers is a local organization that helps you do just that--they repurpose flowers from weddings, funerals, and other events and bring arrangements to residents of assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and patients in hospitals. Consider donating your flower arrangements to them and any vases you might have.
- When I was younger, I had an internship at an area domestic violence shelter. They were almost always in need of donations to help people make a new start. Donations of mattresses, beds, furniture, appliances, even toiletries and cleaning supplies helped a person get started in a new life.
- Homeless shelters are often in need of twin sized bed linens, new pillows, toiletries, and clothing.
- Children’s hospitals often appreciate small games and new toys that they can give to patients.
- Firefighters and first responders often collect small blankets and stuffed animals that they can give to children after a crisis.
- Look into becoming a Red Cross volunteer to help in times of crisis.
- Donate blood, especially if you have a rare blood type.
- What is your area of talent? Use that to help others. If you sing or play a musical instrument, offer to play at a senior center or nursing home. Good at accounting, consider volunteering with the tax program at your local senior center. Were you a builder? Consider offering to help with mission projects.
- Read. This is needed in so many areas. Local libraries often need helpers for their children’s programs. Schools with Accelerated Reader programs are usually happy to have parent volunteers to read with the children. Nursing home residents so enjoy someone coming to read to them, and I find that they really like it when I read from the Bible to them. Adult literacy and English as a second language programs need volunteers to help new readers hone their skills.
- Spend some time volunteering to do grunt work. Mop the floors at the soup kitchen. Sort clothes at a donation center. Those are simple activities that most anyone can do, and yet they are some of the most needed and appreciated duties.
- Alternative schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Big Brother and Big Sister programs are almost always in need of volunteers and mentors. Even something as simple as taking a few hours in a month to help teens with homework is very much appreciated and needed.
- Offer to be a sub if your church or synagogue needs help as a class teacher.
- Think about your favorite charities and charitable programs. Sign up for their newsletters and watch for ways you can help. Help spread the news when they have fundraisers or are in need of certain items to be donated.
- Offer to give a ride to someone who wants to come to church but either doesn’t drive or doesn’t have a ride.
- Get a workout and support a cause. Train for a 5K run or marathon in your area that supports your favorite charity. Get off the couch and get moving!
- Look for other ways to show people you care. Make a meal for a young mother. Make a gift basket full of toiletries and goodies for a college student you know. Check on your elderly neighbors when there has been a power outage or inclement weather.
What other ideas do you have? What are your favorite ways to donate and give?