We all have struggles and frustrations in our day to day, but when you really take the time to pause and think about your life, you are likely very blessed. Having a roof over your head, good health, and people who love you are things that many of us take for granted.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see the needs of others when we're stressed about the many pressures that come with work, school, kids, pets, and daily life. But, if you want to know how to make a difference in your community, we have found some meaningful ways that you can help!
Worthwhile Ways to Volunteer & Help Out in Your Community
Sometimes the help that a person needs is obvious, like a lack of food. Other times, the help that someone needs is feeling seen and heard in this world. If you are looking for different ways to volunteer in your community, we've compiled a list of ideas that can benefit both the physical and mental health of those in need!
1. Start Your Own Food Drive
Did you know that more than 34 million Americans live in food-insecure households as of 2021? This makes putting together a food drive an extremely meaningful enterprise. The best part — once you have done the legwork, the community does the rest!
All you need to do is find an organization like a food bank or church to partner with, snag some large bins to place around town, at your child's school, or your place of work, and post some flyers around your city. You can also advertise your drive on social media. Then, just swing by to check the bins once a week and pick up donations.
During the fall months, temperatures begin to plummet, leaving many kids and adults without a way to stay warm. Coat drives can also be a very purposeful cause that can directly help members of your community.
2. Train Your Dog to Be a Therapy Dog
Training your pup to become a therapy dog will not only enhance the bond you have with your furry best friend, but it can also allow you to share their love and devotion at schools and hospitals once their training is complete! This can play a huge role in a person's mental health and well-being during times of stress.
In order to become a therapy dog, your pup will need to pass a handful of certifications. You can reach out to local dog trainers in your area to see if they offer these types of classes.
3. Make Goodie Bags for Sick Kids
This is a fantastic group activity to do with family and friends around the holidays! Ask everyone to pitch in twenty bucks. Then, head over to your local dollar store and pick up gift bags, coloring books, stickers, markers, Mad Libs, stuffed animals, fidget toys, and any other items that seem appealing to kids.
Next, host a sack-stuffing party at your house! This can be a fun way to catch up with friends and quickly assemble your gift bags. Finally, on another day when you have time to spare, stop by the children's hospital in your area to hand out these goodie bags to kids who are stuck in bed.
It's always best to call the hospital to find out if donations are allowed and if there are any restricted items before buying anything. This can save you time in the long run.
4. Get Moving to Raise Money for a Good Cause
There are so many charity sporting events and they happen every month of the year! You can sign up for fun runs, volleyball tournaments, or even polar bear plunges! You also have the option to raise money while you walk around the house, run errands, and do your day-to-day activities.
Step challenges are one of the easiest ways to volunteer and raise money for a good cause, without ever having to change your routine! Simply sign up, encourage donations from family and friends for reaching certain step goals, and start walking. STEPtember is just one example of these meaningful fundraisers.
5. Make Meals at the Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House Charities provide lodging and other services to the families of sick children who have to travel from out of town for their kid's operations and procedures. One of the many ways they help is by stocking their community fridge with meals so that these families don't have to worry about dinner after a long day at the hospital.
You can sign up to prepare a meal, bake a cake, or make snacks for these folks. Having a sick child is so incredibly stressful and this small gesture can make this difficult time just a little bit easier.
There are also lots of smaller but still powerful ways you can help out in your community if you are pressed for time. In fact, there are lots of ways you can give back in 30 minutes or less! If you can't make a meal for Ronald McDonald House, for example, you can call in a food order from an approved restaurant and have it delivered.
6. Drive for Meals on Wheels
Many older individuals in your community deal with food insecurity and isolation. Meals on Wheels is a program that addresses these issues by delivering meals directly to these people! They are always in search of drivers, and even if you have limited time, they would love your help.
7. Check in on Elderly Neighbors
Just because a person can put food on their table doesn't mean that they don't need help. Many times, the elderly find that the daily tasks that used to be simple are now debilitating. Raking leaves, picking up groceries, and even just changing the sheets on their bed can be hard.
Taking the time to check on the individuals who live right next door can not only provide them with a great amount of help, but it can also allow you to get to know some extraordinary people and build friendships that you never expected!
8. Give Blood to Help Save Lives
Giving blood can literally save lives. If you have one hour to spare, you can be the difference between life and death. The American Red Cross notes that "only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly." What this means is that your donation can make a big difference in your community.
If you have O-negative blood, your donation is in high demand. You are considered a universal donor and your blood is the type most often used in emergencies. Similarly, the most frequently reoccurring blood type is O-positive, making this another high-priority donation.
9. Donate Professional Clothing
Dress for success — this is a simple premise, that for some, is easier said than done. There are amazing people in this world who miss out on opportunities solely because they don't look the part. By not dressing professionally, it wrongly implies that a person is unfit for a position because they don't care about the opportunity. However, in many instances, they just don't have the means to buy a professional outfit.
Organizations like Dress For Success work to empower "women to achieve economic independence." One of the ways they do this is by accepting gently used professional apparel. You can look up your local chapter to see when and where you can provide these types of donations.
10. Drop Off Cards & Treats to Community Workers
Firefighters, police officers, healthcare workers, and educators all make a big difference in our daily lives. They also work long hours and never seem to get the thanks they deserve.
One easy way you can make a difference in your community is to say thank you to those who put our lives above their own. Write thank you notes for their service and either bake them treats or buy them goodies to drop off at their place of work!
Making an Impact Can Start With Asking Questions
If you really want to make a difference in the lives of those around you, then take the time to talk to community members to find out the causes that need the most attention. Speak with educators at your kid's school and church leaders to see which organizations need a helping hand. Reach out to hospitals and shelters to find out what kind of donations or assistance they might need.
Giving back doesn't need to take a lot of time out of your day, but know that the time you give can have a huge impact on those in need!