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12 Ways to Give Back to the Community
Giving not only makes us feel good, it also makes us healthier and happier! To help you on the road to greater well-being, we’re diving into twelve unique ways to give back to the community.
Beyond just making you feel good, helping your community can have tangible mental and physical health benefits. Studies show that giving back can lower blood pressure, prevent depression and even improve mood and happiness levels!1 These benefits apply regardless of whether you take an active role in helping others or you put your dollars where they matter most.
Don’t know where to start? If you’re looking for inspiration, here are a dozen different ways to give back to the community:
Volunteer your time. About 63 million Americans — 1 in 4 adults — donate their time and talents each year.2 There’s no shortage of opportunities to volunteer in person or online, so choose one that matches your passions. Whether you want to craft hygiene kits for the homeless, plant trees, spend quality time with seniors or do one of the many other volunteer activities out there, your efforts will be appreciated.
Participate in a local fundraiser. Many nonprofits host physical or virtual events to raise money. Heart health? Cancer research? Autism awareness? Find a cause you believe in and sign up for a charity walk/run, event or social media fundraiser.
Bank with a local credit union. Because they are not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions give back to their members and the community. To give you an idea, Desert Financial gave back $3.9 million to the community in 2020 through nonprofit grants, scholarships, COVID-19 relief funds and more. In addition, many credit unions host charity fundraisers or supply drives and encourage their staff to volunteer. So, you essentially give more back to your community just by being a member!
Donate money. Time and energy aren’t the only gifts you can give to your community. If you’re short on intangibles like these but have breathing room in your budget, consider donating money to a local nonprofit or national cause. Many charitable donations are tax-deductible; check with the nonprofit for details. Not sure if a charity is legit? Learn how to spot charity scams before donating.
Give the gift of life. If you’re healthy and able, consider donating blood, plasma, platelets or even bone marrow and organs to help save a life. A pint of blood – one of the simplest and least invasive donation options — can save up to three lives!
Become a mentor. Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) professionally matches adults with children who have expressed a personal interest in having a mentor. Many of these children are from low-income, single-parent households and may not have strong role models to learn from. Volunteer with your local BBBS or look for schools, churches and community groups that need adult mentors.
Foster an animal in need. According to the ASPCA, about 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter shelters every year.3 With so many animals in need, many shelters have a foster program in place to help socialize abandoned pets while they await their new “fur-ever” homes. Sign up to foster through the ASPCA or your local shelter — but be forewarned, many temporary pet parents end up adopting at least one new furry family member!
Donate food or supplies. You’re probably already shopping for groceries, so why not add a few extra items to the list? Food pantries, group homes and shelters are always in need of non-perishable goods. Find a local one and ask what they need most.
Food Pantry Tip: Avoid donating foods that require extra items to prepare (like boxed mac-and-cheese that needs butter and milk). Focus instead on stand-alone staples like canned meats and vegetables, applesauce and peanut butter.
Organize a charity drive. Partner with your church, social group or community organization to host a supply drive for food, diapers and baby supplies, school supplies or other essentials for those in need. The items you raise can be donated to a local food pantry, shelter or other helping organization.
Perform a random act of kindness. Every time you do something nice for someone, you help your community by spreading joy and positivity. A random act of kindness doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as paying a compliment to a stranger or buying coffee for the person on line behind you.
Clean out your closets. Many thrift shops like Goodwill, Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul donate their proceeds to support charitable causes. Clean out unwanted clothes or household items in good condition and take them to your local nonprofit thrift store. This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to give back to the community!
Shop local. Purchasing homemade jam or locally crafted candles might seem more self-serving than altruistic, but buying local does more good than you might think. Every time you buy from a local retailer, eat at a local restaurant or shop at a local farmers market, you help your community by supporting the business’s owners and keeping more of your dollars in the local economy.
Hopefully, these twelve ideas have inspired you to reach out in your community and beyond. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to give back. Look for opportunities that align with your beliefs, passions and personal causes. Pick one that appeals to you or explore a variety of ways to give — you’ll be glad you did!
For more information on Random Acts of Kindness and other opportunities to give back in Arizona, visit us online and follow @DesertFinancial on social!