“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, with work stresses, family responsibilities, and unforeseen circumstances making our fast-paced world a hard road to navigate at times. Even in the face of all of these responsibilities, it’s important to volunteer where you can. Everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place; for themselves, for their children, and even for complete strangers. Giving back can take on a variety of forms, but these easy and inexpensive ways will make the most of your time and create a wonderful difference in your community.
Get Involved with Your Child’s School
If you want to spend more time with your little ones and give back to other kids in the community, consider donating your time to your child’s school. Teachers by and large need more help than they can come by, and your assistance would be more than appreciated nine times out of ten. If you’re an artist, teach an afternoon instruction to the kids or drop off paint supplies; if you’re a musician, come in for music hour. Even if you’re unsure what you can do to contribute in the classroom, rest assured the teacher can definitely find use for you, whether that be in handing out necessary materials, making copies, or providing an extra helping hand during a class project. If your child is older, you can still get involved by offering tutoring help on the side.
Animal Shelter Helper
If you’re an animal lover and have a few extra hours to spend each week, considering heading over to your local shelter and donating your time. Depending on the organization, you might be put to work creating a play area for the pups, cleaning up, feeding, and even socializing with little furry friends. Most animal shelters are understaffed and rely on volunteerism to get by, so giving up some of your free time will be most appreciated by the dedicated individuals who care for these animals on a daily basis. Many studies have shown that spending time with animals can actually have major health benefits for us humans, so get out there and pet some pups—you’ll both reap the benefits.
Start a Community Garden
Yards are getting smaller, cities are getting crowded, and getting in touch with nature in the middle of an urban or suburban neighborhood is harder than ever. If your neighborhood doesn’t yet have a community garden, get together with some like-minded folk and start your own. If there are areas of unused land around you, or lots that have sat abandoned for years, approach your local council members and see what they can do to secure you the space for some garden cultivation. Adding plants and trees to a neighborhood improves both aesthetics and air quality, and gives its citizens a better sense of community, especially when it’s a plot that requires everyone’s care.
Visit Neighborhood Seniors
Senior centers will always accept the helping hand and smiling face of an eager volunteer. Sometimes all the residents need is just a friendly face and a willing ear to listen. Some of the residents may not regularly receive visitors, and your presence could make all the difference in their daily life. You can always play cards, watch films, bring along your friendly pup for some much need animal therapy, and invite your kids to get in on the visiting hours.
One Drop at a Time
Sometimes the biggest differences come through the smallest gestures, and giving back doesn’t always mean completing a large project—it could be serving as a ray of light in someone’s darkest hour. You’ve likely heard it before, but remember that even the tiniest of drops can create an ever-expanding ripple. Peruse gift ideas for a friend who’s going through a hard time, send beautiful flowers to a colleague who’s having a rough work week, or drop off cookies at a local hospital. Even the seemingly insignificant efforts you make on a daily basis can turn someone’s week around, whether that be holding the door open for the next person, buying the coffee of the person in line behind you, or letting that other driver get the last parking spot.
“Kindness is the language which the blind can see and the deaf can hear”
– Mark Twain