You don’t have to travel to Africa to feed the hungry or soothe a baby orphaned due to AIDS. And nor do you have to be a billionaire in order to do good to the society. It is also a fact that each of us must give back to the world in one way or the other because that can make life so beautiful! As Benjamin Franklin says: ‘The Noblest Question in the World is What Good May I Do In It?’ The good thing is most of us have an inherent desire to get involved in the community and many small and large businesses do that as well. If you have always wanted to get more involved in community service, but don’t know where to start, this brief guide will help you:
1. Help with your body
There are projects that everyone can participate in and one need not have artistic abilities or super human strength or perfect vision and hearing for them. Here are some ways to get involved in community building by using our greatest gift from Nature-our bodies:
- Use your hands to plant a community garden or help build houses, or help a frail neighbor fix broken stuff around their home.
- Prepare and serve meals at soup kitchens
- Pick up trash in your area.
- Run a marathon/walkathon for a cause.
- Shop for the elderly neighbor who is not able to get around much.
- Donate blood
- Sign up to be an organ donor.
2. Give with your eyes and ears
- Learn sign language and help the hearing impaired.
- Help the blind with grocery shopping, reading, etc. (Sign up at the American Foundation for the Blind).
- Sign up to donate eyes.
Aren’t these beautiful ways to get more involved in the community?
3. Give with just your presence
Simply being there for someone who is disabled or depressed is also a great way to get involved in a new community or old one. Buy tickets to the game for a lonely neighbor, or laugh with or hug a child or teenager. Listen to them. Become a hospice volunteer. These are highly rewarding ways to get more involved in your community.
4. Watch out for community events in the newsletter
Newsletter and newspapers all carry information about various events happening around you. They can be great sources to discover how to get more involved. These events range from silent candlelight protests, raising AIDS awareness, helping the homeless, cleaning up the planet, rescuing stray animals, …the list goes on.
5. New mothers can help too!
Just because you are a new mother or about to be one, doesn’t mean you can’t help. Are you having more milk supply than you baby needs? Donate the extra milk by pumping it and handing of frozen packets to hospitals. (Contact the International Breast Milk Project for details.) Pregnant mommies to be can also offer to become hospital baby cuddlers– a term given to women who snuggle with babies born to addicted mothers or premature orphan babies. For more information, click here.
6. Set up personal fundraising for a cause
Make sure you have a good cause to support. Ask friends and family first. Get your kids involved. Talk to colleagues and leave a donation box at work. You can tell people to donate small amounts-such as a dollar a day. Take things to the web if needed. Sites like FirstGiving.org allow you to create your own charity page in an easy way so people can learn more about your charity.
7. Donate your hair
This is a great project for kids and adults who desire to do good and get more involved in a community. A minimum length of 10-12 inches of hair is mandatory for donation purpose and it goes into making wigs for financially disadvantaged kids who have lost their hair to alopecia or other diseases. Many donors grow their hair again and again just to donate it. Visit Locks of Love for details.
8. Get political
It is important to have a good leader who can use his political clout and improve the society and country on the whole. If you are interested in politics, contact a local political group in your area and mention your interest in serving the community. Ask them for projects they need volunteers in. You can work in taxes, health care, crime etc. Students can get an insight into understanding politics and even pave way for a future career this way.
9. Help out at your local schools
Volunteer to teach kids or help children having disabilities. If you are good at it, you can even coach students in sports. Schools also need substitute teachers and mentors. Even getting on board of the PTA can help you become more involved in the community. You can even start a Read with children program. Help close the achievement gap and read with kids from poor communities. You can also organize a book collection drive to collect books for poor communities.
10. Participate in surveys
You can become involved in improving community by volunteering to be a part of evaluation programs. Serve on local committee boards and encourage people to participate too. Through surveys, you can help determine what a community needs. And the results are only bound to lead to growth and improvement.
11. Clothing and food drives
These are easiest ways to do good and get involved in development of a community. Many Americans lose their jobs each year. You can seek to help such families struggling financially by attempting to reduce most basic needs such as clothes and food. Strengthen your community renewal by collecting gently used clothes and food cans.
12. Help in disaster management/relief
Strengthen the community by preparing for disasters. You can also help military families and support veterans. Get involved with groups that create awareness about floods, forest fires etc. Help local authorities avoid and prevent these mishaps. You can also help rebuild community in the aftermath of these mishaps.
13. Promote healthy lifestyles
Encourage community members to eat healthy and get basic screening that can prevent many deadly diseases. Educate community members, old and young, about preventable diseases and speak about how healthcare costs communities billions of dollars.
14. Get committed to energy saving
15. Encourage kids to volunteer
Kids are our nation’s future. Help them understand why it is important to get involved in your community. Teach them to understand benefits of service. Encourage them to find out avenues they can look into for volunteering. Check out my guide on easy ways to fundraise with kids.
There are endless, limitless possibilities to get involved with the community. You can volunteer at the local library, join the YMCA, get involved with senior care organizations, speak to representatives of local museums, and get involved in child care or mental health programs near you. I hope this brief guide helps you find your calling! Good luck!