It's often this time of year I realize I haven't done enough giving - or volunteering - and it's something I hope to work on moving forward. I want to consistently give back to those less fortunate than my family, and support those I love.
Sure, money becomes tighter for many of us around the holidays, but as Samantha points out, there are many ways to donate without spending a lot of money.
Here are some ways I currently like to do to pay it forward, or ways I hope to start this coming year. I hope you will join me!!
Compassionate Care ALS - CCALS has become part of my family. In Sept 2010 my mother was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. As I wrote about earlier, I hope to start using my blog as a platform to drive awareness around ALS as I've learned most people don't know anything about this debilitating and invariably fatal disease. The cause of ALS is not known, and there is no cure.
CCALS doesn't work to find a cure for ALS. There are already many organizations out there raising funds to do so. It's not that those organizations don't need more money, they absolutely do, but CCALS takes a different approach. They focus on each individual patient and what their CURRENT needs are. They stand by each person during their ALS journey and provide advice, expensive equipment to make patients lives easier, medicine bags, and really ANYTHING you and your family need to make your lives even a little bit easier.
They have scooters to help patients get around, they know how to work with insurance companies, if they don't have something you need they know how to get it. They help pay for things like craniosacral therapy if that's something that helps the person with ALS. They have support groups for caregivers. Really, what they do is limitless and a value can't be placed on their care and understanding.
Donations of any amount are always welcome and appreciated. You can make a donation in memory or in honor of someone. Any donations in honor of my mom, Carol M. are always appreciated!
Look for another post this week talking about some more of my favorite charities.
Donations to your local Food Bank. Melissa gives some pretty staggering hunger statistics over on her blog. She decided to use her blog for good, and rent advertising space for three months. She will be donating 100% of proceeds to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Here are some ways you can help:
- Rent ad space from Melissa for three months to promote your blog, or small business (you can help others while helping yourself!)
- Contact your local food bank and start a similar program to Melissa - using your blog to raise donations
- Organize a canned food drive in your neighborhood and deliver to a local food bank
- Volunteer your time to serve meals and organize food at a local food bank
- One thing I've learned is that shelters/vets offices/doggie daycare, etc always looking for old sheets, blankets and towels to use. When you're cleaning out your closets, put together a bag and encourage others to do the same
- Contact your local animal shelter to see if they need volunteers to walk, feed and bathe the animals
- Contact your local animal shelter to see what types of food donations they could use
Organize a Santa Gift Drive - One of the things I am most proud of is something I did many years ago. I contacted a local homeless shelter and had them gather a wish list of things the residents would like to receive for Christmas. I took the list and put each item on a star and hung it on a tree at my office at work. Employees would take a star, purchase the gift and bring it back to the office wrapped with the star attached. I grouped each gift by family and delivered to the homeless shelter. I also collected cash donations and purchased any remaining "stars" and donated the rest of the money to the shelter. I was so happy that I was able to provide a Christmas to people who otherwise wouldn't have been able to celebrate. It was also a great way to connect with co-workers and really feel the Christmas spirit.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness - This is something I started doing after reading some great blog posts about RAoK. I am going to start a portion of my blog to talk about each thing I've done throughout the year. It's not to brag about it, but because I when I'm feeling down I want to remember things I've done to bring a smile to someone face. I also hope to encourage others to do the same. I've already started on this task and love that sometimes when I do something SH will ask "Was that your random act for the day?"
What are some ways you like to pay it forward?