I have been struggling lately with a lot of the news and world events. Each week a new tragedy or life altering event occurs for those either around me or outside my community and each time this happens, the first call to action is to give money. People urging you to support GoFundMe campaigns or giving to local charities to support relief efforts. And each time I see this I feel incredibly guilty, sad, helpless, and less empowered, because I don't have a lot of money. Even giving $5 each time something happens in our world could impact my ability to support my family.
I know many of you can relate - do I give to the Las Vegas fund (for example) to support the hundreds affected or feed my child? It seems selfish right? The voice in my head screams out - "How can you not afford $5, are you that hard-done-by? People are dying while you sit and have dinner as a family and you can't give them $5?" This is my struggle. I sit privileged hoping one day to never have to reach out for money from anyone, but I have not given one dollar to those in need.
I'm done feeling hopeless and helpless. There are ways we can contribute without having to feel shame, guilt or part with our money. We can look around our environments and especially within ourselves to see that we have so much more to give that can be of better use than one dollar. I searched out ways we can give back and ways we can support those in need - BUT most of all guys, we need to start close to home!! Enriching our environments with support, love and a strong community means we secure all these things in our future if or when something should happen. So I have included many ideas here that involve ways to support not just major disaster events, but local communities within your reach.
Ways you can help those around you without donating to campaigns or charities:
1. Donate Blood - It's one thing that can saves lives immediately in crisis situations. Especially in the example of the Las Vegas attack, those affected needed blood immediately. By donating you are ensuring these people get what they need to save their life.
2. Donate your clothing or unused sanitary items such as soap, shampoos, toothpaste, brushes, etc. There are charity or church groups who rally to collect clothing and other household items that are considered necessities for those in need. In the case of environmental disasters these items are most important. We all have those unused hotel shampoo bottles or wrapped bars of soap we can donate or a gently used shirt, socks, pants, etc. You don't need 10 pairs of shoes, maybe you have a pair of sneakers you can spare. All these things cost nothing to you, but mean a world of a difference for someone who lost everything.
3. Volunteer - Well this one is a no brainer and there are endless ways you can volunteer your time. This is a great form of Community Outreach and supporting locally. You can serve in a local retirement home, school, church, you can fix and serve meals, help coach a sports team, tutor for kids in need - the list goes on. You can always research your local community and see what needs they have and go from there.
Not only can you volunteer your time locally, but think about your skillset and perhaps what you do as a career - can you offer this service to an international organization? For example, if you are a web developer maybe you can help get a website up and running that will support another community in need? This is another way you can use what you do to help those in need who might be further away. We are so digitally connected now, we can impact others around the world just by finding ways to connect.
4. Host a Charity Yard Sale - Don't have money or item you can donate, well perhaps you can organize a charity yard sale? We all have things laying around that no longer serves us. So why not sell them and what sales are earned can then be donated to a local cause or disaster relief fund.
5. Get Crafty. Do you sew, knit, or have another crafty skill? There are many organizations out there that look for people like you who can support by offering your skills. I'm sure we all have left over supplies we can use to create something for someone. As an example, your local hospital might be looking for those who can knit booties for premies. And, look up sweaters for Penguins - just do it! There are local groups who support this work you can research and even supply patterns.
6. Swipe your Credit Card. Not to give money, but to donate points! Research your credit card reward offerings and you will see that many, if not all, have an option to donate your points to various charity organizations. This is the same for Rewards/Loyalty Cards such as AirMiles, Aeroplan and even your local Gas points card have options to give via your points.
7. Surf, Search, and Donate. Did you know that there are search engines out there that donate for every search you perform? I didn't! Instead of using your usual search company like Google, you could try GoodSearch, which donates a penny for every search to charities and schools that users choose. This is just one option of many out there. All you have to do is your homework - search out ways to donate through search engines, games, apps, etc.
8. Get your hair cut. Several organizations such as Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids will happily take your cut hair to make hairpieces for patients who lose their hair due to medical treatment or a medical condition. You may need to wait a bit and grow your hair out before doing good; the minimum length requirement is 10 inches.
9. Become an organ donor. This one is tough for many of us and I realize that, but I have read and heard countless stories about organ donation - living and deceased - that has really removed any fear or reservations. Do your research, talk to those who have given and read the stories from families who are waiting for precious organs that will save their life or life of a loved one. As a society we should be doing more to remove any stigmas associated with organ donation and encourage it a lot more. Support the living donors so they feel safe and more apt to donate rather than afraid. Our bodies are incredibly resilient and equipped to support our fellow human - we have so much to give! Doesn't that make you feel incredible knowing you can save a life and you don't even have to be a doctor.
10. Do more research! I am sure this list could go on endlessly. So I encourage you to do your own research. Find out one way you can give back. Make it tradition in your family. Start a new trend within your group of friends. It takes a village guys and I believe we can all find ways to help that does not require us to reach into our pockets first. There is definitely a time and place where funding through dollars is more efficient, but it doesn't always have to work that way. And we don't have to walk away thinking, well I'm a big failure cause I can't even give $5. You are a hero and you can support in many ways. Find the one that works for you and know you are making a difference.
Do you have another suggestion that is not on the list? Share it with the Tribe on my Facebook page - Spirit Bear Rising.
Much love, xo