There’s a saying that goes ‘small acts, when multiplied, can transform the world’. There’s a lot to say about community in the 21st century. It can be easy to think that we live out our modern lives like islands, tethered to technology, heads buried in phones, and failing to find a way to make meaningful connections with those in close proximity.
This is where being part of something can change the way we think, like a stone cast upon water – we can create ripples of change that reach every shore.
We all have something to give and we can all bring benefit to the world (whether large or small) by giving something back. Beyond the idea of having to break the bank, here are some tips for getting crafty with giving back to your community…
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Benefits to Giving Back to the Community
Helping is healthy. In the book The Healing Power of Doing Good, Alan Luks maps out exactly how helping others can benefit the health and wellbeing of the helper. In a world that can feel tough sometimes, being able to actively contribute to the needs of others can contribute to us feeling less helpless and less overwhelmed by all the problems we face on a global scale. This can boost our individual mental health and collectively raise us up to take a more active approach to the problems we face.
Strengthening community can also bring economic benefits as it builds beautiful partnerships across sectors, helps people to exchange skill shares that can lead to self-sufficiency, and helps keep people in need fed, housed, and clothed while deepening understanding of exactly what resources are needed in your community to help everyone thrive.
Just the act of giving helps us to connect with those around us, and in a society that can sometimes feel very insular, forging these person-to-person connections can bring so much joy. Not only does volunteering help to deliver a feeling of purpose, but it also helps you to learn new skills, find new friendships, increases self-confidence, and can even help you to gain traction in your career, not to mention help your community to become a better place to live.
How to Find Ways to Give Back to the Community
Finding ways to give back to your community doesn't have to be an overwhelmingly grand gesture. Many hands make for light work and you can start small with volunteer opportunities by acknowledging your own resources. Whether you are able to donate your time, give a few tins to a local food pantry, hang out with some residents at the senior center, share your life skills with charities, or even just spread the good word on social media, every inch matters when it comes to volunteering.
Here are a few amazing links and resources that can help connect you with organizations that can point you in the right direction and grant you all the knowledge you need to act now and get involved with volunteer work within your community....
Share Good News
The world can feel like there’s a lot of doom and gloom going on so why not look to spread a bit of cheer around your neighborhood. Put together a positive news community letter filled with shared events, personal tidbits (with people’s permission), and noting all the amazing things that have happened right on your doorstep. Not only will this boost community spirit but it also helps to forge closer connections with locals and can help build a local scene.
Wherever you live you can be sure that there will a local business or companies in need right on your doorstep. Instead of ordering online or heading to the bigger branches, why not do a little digging and see what you can buy locally. Contributing to the local economy can be amazing for your community as it directly benefits your doorstep economy. From farmers markets to cozy corner shops, across the road hairdressers, and local restaurants and bars, consider where your money will make the most impact.
Get in the Garden
Community gardens are a gorgeous way of creating nurturing spaces on your doorstep. Just a small patch of space can transform everything, giving everyone a plot to work on – whether growing vegetables and herbs for all or even just planting pretty flowers to cheer up the street. While working in community gardens, this also gives you a great chance to meet the neighbors transforming a street of strangers into friendly faces and close-knit camaraderie.
Hang Out With People
If your local community has a pensioners club or community centre for young people – go and hang out and volunteer. Whether it's checking in with elderly neighbors to see if they need milk picking up from the store or crafting a workshop for teenage girls to chat and learn a skill, people will always need people and you can help facilitate that. Loneliness is one of our biggest burdens in the 21st century, let's start making time and space to support each other. One place where this will be especially impactful is in the local senior center. Swing by and hang out with some older folk who may not be able to rely on family ties for comfort but instead rely on people like you volunteering your time to help them avoid loneliness particularly around the holiday season when these feelings can be amplified.
Whether out for a dog walk or taking part in an organized litter pick, cleaning up your streets is a low cost, low risk and extremely beneficial thing to do in your local community. Go out armed with a bag and bring home some litter, sweep the fallen leaves from the sidewalk, and keep your own garden neat and maybe offer help to those who can’t do the same. Having a clean and tidy looking neighborhood is sure to keep everyone’s spirits high.
Put Your Books Out
If you find your shelves are stacked high with books you no longer need or read, why not make a front lawn library? Set up a box of books on the street and a sign inviting people to take the ones they want. This is an amazing way of giving back to the community, especially as not everyone has the access they need when it comes to literature. You may even start a trend and before you know it, the whole street could be one living breathing library. Ah, the dream. If you don't live in a place where leaving books out is possible then check in with your local community centers to see if they can set up a book swap or lenders library.
Become an Organ Donor
If you are someone who is short on time and just doesn't have the physical resources to commit to philanthropy at this moment then there are ways you can contribute without having to carve out space right at this moment. Sign up to become an organ donor or make the choice to give blood at your local hospital or health center and help save a life.
Set up a Food Drive
With the economy in a bit of a slump its a heartbreaking reality that not everyone has as much food as they need. Setting up a local food bank in your community is a great way of targeting that problem and making sure that everyone has access to food to feed their families. Encourage other people within the surrounding communities to do the same and even talk to local businesses about contributing or at least allowing you to set up a donation box at the exit. Holiday food drives are especially important as its a time of year that can feel the tightest for families and individuals in need. Folk also have a lot more generosity around the holidays so this could help fill your food banks. Encourage a variety of donations and even some toys to be donated for the children.
Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter
It's not just humans that need our help in the community, but also animals. If you have some time to spare you can check in to see if your local animal shelter needs volunteers to help with their efforts of feeding, walking dogs, cleaning out kennels, and any other actions that can help to take off the burden. You don't even need to get directly involved with the dogs if you don't want - there are always behind the scenes actions too, like volunteering to create content for their website, sharing your life skills, creating a new logo, collecting information from donators like phone number and email address for future correspondence, and even getting busy with fundraising events to help buy food or whatever else the shelter needs.
Feel free to share your own ideas and stories on how to give back to the community. Can’t wait to hear them and starting contributing to making our streets warmer places to be. Share this article and help us to spread a little joy as we all come together for a better world. Charity starts at home and when you see the results of your community starting to thrive, you know its all for a good cause.
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