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The past few years have been really hard on everyone. There’s no shortage of stories telling this tale. Homelessness is spiking, inflation is raising the cost of living beyond the reach of too many, and mental health is being pushed to the breaking point and beyond.
So what can one person do in the face of all of this? The answer: plenty!
While one person can’t stop prices from rising, one person CAN help another. Rather than wait for Someone to do Something, why not be that Someone? I’ve found it quite empowering, actually, and it brings a good feeling to my heart. Positive mind! I also love the expression of gratitude for my own blessings that comes with helping others. So what can one person do?
That seems a bit obvious and depends upon whether or not you’ve got any. However, every non-profit in the country, from animal shelters to veterans organizations, needs funding. The Charity Navigator can help you find organizations that will actually use the money you give them for the cause.
I recommend considering buying a Christmas gift from a local giving tree or donating money to a local organization that provides Christmas gifts for low-income people.
I once bought warm socks and thermals for some guy who was working outside and didn’t have any. Such a simple gift, no doubt, made his life so much better! There are also organizations running Adopt A Family programs, where individuals provide Christmas gifts and a modest meal for a family in need. This includes veteran organizations like Soldier’s Angels.
Whether it’s an old printer that still works, old clothing that you don’t wear anymore, or the stuff left over from your yard sale, there’s probably someone out there who could put it to use. Why contribute to a landfill when you can help out in your community?
A charity shop might be able to sell your yard sale leftovers to raise money for a worthy cause. De-cluttering warms my soul and helps restore a sense of control to the things I actually can control. When out shopping, remember that buying local helps build the economy in your community and support small businesses. By supporting the small businesses in your community, you’re supporting families, not corporate profits and exorbitant CEO bonuses.
I bought a slow cooker a year or so back, a Nesco 1.5 quart for $17 locally. The exact same item was $22 on Amazon to pay for the free shipping, no doubt. By buying locally, I saved money and supported local jobs.
If you’re a gardener, consider donating your extra produce to a local food bank. There’s a food bank right up the street from my house, and last year they ended up with 200 pounds of fresh food from me. Twenty-three squashes in my garden had their uses, even after my pantry was full!
During the lockdowns in 2020, gardeners in my county gave just shy of 10,000 pounds of food to help others in need! Do you see how one person can make a difference? As Batman said to Gordon in Batman Begins: “Now, we’re two.”
See what I mean?
How can you help out? Let us count the ways!
All of the above-mentioned run on volunteer labor and would be happy to have you. Whether you’re ringing bells for the Red Kettle Campaign or cleaning litter pans at the animal shelter, you’re making a difference and improving lives in your community. You’re also getting out of the house, which I’ve found can make a huge difference in my thinking.
Remember: how you think is everything! For a time before ‘Rona, I was the Master Gardener assigned to a local elementary school, helping the kids learn how to grow their own food. I also put in some time every year on the Red Kettle Campaign to help raise money. I’ve worked for an animal shelter and ended up with some awesome cats!
One small business here has organized a Trees for Vets campaign, letting area vets choose a Christmas tree from their farm free of charge. Last year this farm gave 35 trees. A number of years ago, a fellow I knew organized a food and clothing drive for people who had been burned out of their homes. Neighbors did similar for my own father when his house burned down in 2014. Social work prior to government involvement consisted of the community taking care of its own.
What causes warm your heart and give you a sense of purpose and belonging?
Get to know your neighbors.
Talk to your neighbors face to face and keep tabs on the elderly in your neighborhood. Bring them a small lunch and visit for a while. Visit a senior center. You’ll hear some awesome stories! An added benefit: knowing something about your neighbors and how they see things.
Another benefit: learning the lay of the land. Volunteering also connects me to others and makes me feel energized & happy. Priceless! Perhaps you can adopt a local family or an elderly person who’s alone in the world. You’ll make an incredible difference and perhaps new friends!
Lastly, never EVER underestimate the value of a kind word!
These past two years haven’t made us kinder to one another. Quite the opposite, in fact. A kind word can make a difference in someone’s day, changing a bad feeling into a good one with a simple gesture. If you have the opportunity to give a kind word, please do so! You may radically change someone’s day and the feeling they have in their heart. That, of course, will bring a good feeling to YOUR heart.
Helping others yields incredible benefits.
In addition to maintaining a positive mind and correct thinking, helping others builds community. One can find meaning and belonging by working with others for a common cause. Working within my community connects me to my neighbors and makes the city I love a better place.
You don’t have to be a wealthy philanthropist to make a difference in the world. Do you volunteer or donate? What can you do to help others? Do you have any suggestions to add to the ones here? Tell us in the comments below!
About Amy Allen
Amy Allen is a professional bookworm and student of Life, the Universe, and Everything. She’s also a Master Gardener with a BS in biology, and has been growing food on her small urban lot since 2010.