The Busy Person’s Guide to Giving Back to the Community

group of people giving back to the community by picking up trash

We are the sum of all the help we receive along the way—even if the help we receive is not obvious. No one can make it through life solely on his or her own. Giving back creates a circle of gratitude between you and your community. Therefore, everyone has a reason to give back. Likewise, giving back to the community helps cultivate a sense of purpose. While it is true that giving back is worth pursuing, our busy and demanding schedules often provide hurdles that are hard to overcome. If you want to do some good but don’t know where to start, here is a how-to guide on how to give back to the community with some easy things you can do to make a big impact.

How to Give Back to the Community

It is time to pay-it-forward. Here are some simple ways to take part in philanthropic causes and participate in community-building activities:

Give Back by Donating

  • Donate your stuff. One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure. There could be items in your house that are outdated and are not being used anymore. Donating these items to nearby organizations can save you a lot of storage space. Furthermore, you can even get tax deductions from your annual income. Most charitable organizations qualify for tax-deductible donations. Check the 501(c)(3) designation of the organization to be sure.
  • Donate unwanted food. According to the 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year. The prevalence of food waste can be due to lack of meal planning and unnecessary bulk and impulsive purchases. There is a way to redirect excess food items from landfills to those in need. Look for food banks and food rescue initiatives near your community.
  • Hair Donation. People with hair loss problems will thank you for offering your long locks to hair donation organizations. There are currently three major organizations accepting hair donations – Locks of Love, Wigs for Kids, and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. It is best to check first with the organization for specific hair donation requirements.
  • Donate blood. Blood donations are crucial for saving lives. Blood donations help local hospitals save trauma, surgery and chemotherapy patients. OneBlood is an organization that makes blood donation easy and convenient through their roving blood donating buses. Their website publishes their upcoming schedules, making it easy to donate blood.

Give Back Through Your Spending

  • Box Tops for Education is a program sponsored by General Mills. Donations are raised by purchasing the participating brands, clipping box tops, compiling and sending them to your school of choice. The school earns 10 cents for every box top collected.
  • Amazon Smile is a website operated by Amazon.com. When you shop through Amazon Smile, the foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of the eligible products to your nominated charitable organization.
  • Buy Fair Trade Products and other products that give back. By supporting Fair Trade products, you are helping the marginalized producers and workers get better trading conditions. You can look for products bearing a fair trade seal or check the link for companies that are Fair Trade Certified.
  • Purchase products from companies that give back. When you need to purchase items for yourself or others, consider purchasing from companies that have a promise to give back. For example, with their “One for One” platform, with every product you purchase from TOMS, the company will help a person in need. Do your research and find companies that have similar missions.

Give Back With Your Everyday Contributions

  • By living Green and making sustainable choices you are giving back to the community. You can start by buying locally-grown produce. Additionally, you can help by reducing your waste and reusing and recycling items. Reduce power consumption by turning off lights when not in use, let fresh air in by opening windows. If possible, carpool to work to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Online searches through Goodsearch and Tab for a Cause donate certain amounts for searches you perform or tabs that you open. The best part, it is free.
  • Be active and earn Charity Miles. Your nominated charitable institution gets 25 cents for every mile you run and 10 cents for every mile biked.
  • Using Apps that give back is also a good way to give back to the community and connect with non-profit organizations. GiveGab is a social media outlet for volunteers. Be My Eyes allows sighted volunteers the opportunity to assist blind or visually impaired individuals.

No matter how busy you are, you can find unique ways to give back. And not only does giving back to the community help you get more out of life but it also allows you to connect with people in a meaningful way. Through small acts, you are making the world a little better and a little kinder. Additionally, giving back helps you expand your horizon and lead a life of gratitude. When we are busy or overwhelmed, it is easy to disregard our blessings and forget to look at the bigger picture from time to time. Giving back can help us enrich our lives as much as the lives of those whom we aim to help.

About the Author

Josh Miles is a St. Petersburg/Tampa based writer who studied Business Management and Marketing at the University of South Florida. He believes that time spent with good friends and a connection with nature are keys to a healthy and happy life. In his free time, you will find him exercising, listening to music, or playing video games with friends.
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