Last week, we started this post with the many ways you can make a difference in this world. Now here’s the rest…
Do Your Part to Save the Planet
- Buy and bring reusable shopping bags when shopping. They can hold more, last longer and don’t add to our landfills.
- Bottle your own water – stop buying a new case from the store every couple weeks, and invest in a BPA-free reusable bottle. If you really need filtration, get a charcoal filter Brita pitcher and keep it full in the fridge.
- Turn off the light when you leave the room. It’ll save the planet and your electric bill.
- Walk or ride your bike if you can. Short trips can be good exercise, you get to see more of the world around you, and you’ll feel better physically and spiritually.
Donate Money – It Doesn’t Even Have to Come out of Your Pocket
- Donate a small sum of money to a charity you love. Size doesn’t matter – every penny counts for most charities, especially at other times of the year than December when most people give.
- Give a foster child a memory. Often Foster Parents are overextended just to give lost kids a safe home. One Simple Wish has an online directory of requests that case workers submit for their foster youth – money to go to prom, take dance lessons, cheerleading or sports uniforms, or books for higher education classes.
- Kiva lets you loan money to third world entrepreneurs. The micro-loans may seem small to you, but they make a huge difference for those family businesses and 99% of the loans are paid back.
- DonorsChoose.org let’s you support schools and teachers in your community so students can get the tools, supplies and experiences they need for a great education. You can designate the benefits for a school district in general, or for a specific school, all across the country.
- Box Tops for Education gives money to schools who collect the little tabs on certain grocery items.
- Save your soda can tabs for The Ronald McDonald House who gets money from the aluminum companies.
Donate While You Shop
- Many grocery stores and Target offer their customers the chance to give back by designating that a non-profit receives a small percentage of the customers purchase price. It doesn’t even come out of your pocket, but can make a huge difference.
- Amazon Smile is a similar program through Amazon.com.
- Other online retailers like Best Buy, Expedia and more offer giving options through iGive. Again, none of this comes out of your own pocket.
- Consider using Goodsearch instead of Google or Bing. A portion of the advertising revenues it gets are funneled into designated charities.
Pay it Forward – Or Behind!
- The next time you’re in the drive-thru line at Starbucks or Burger King, pay for the next person’s meal or beverage. You can do it in store too, but sometimes there’s an added feeling of excitement knowing that the person will be surprised.
- Invite someone to dinner – especially at the holidays when it is difficult for some people to be alone.
Donate Your Things
- Instead of holding on to a lot of extra stuff in case you need it for a rainy day, or in case it comes back into style, why not hand me down your still useable things to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or Kiwanis. Someone who really needs it can use your stuff, you get a tax deduction and the charity continues to fund their other work.
- Give Back Box will send you prepaid shipping labels so you can donate clothes, household items, games and electronics, and they ship the items to Goodwill at no charge.
- Gently used medical goods are needed too. For eyeglasses, look up your local Lion’s Club, and for orthopedics, check out the Elks.
- If you’re home during the day, pop out and offer your mail carrier and garbage men a Gatorade or bottled water. This also a nice gesture for crossing guards, school bus drivers, and security guards if you live near a school.
- Even today, we’re not on the computer all day. Sign up with BOINC, a revolutionary project from the University of California & the National Science Foundation. You can share your computer’s processing power when you’re not using it to work on complex equations that are calculating study results for research on various diseases and other high-level research projects.
- If you have odd jobs around the house, you can post them on Hire Patriots and give some much needed extra income to Vets in your area who are struggling to make ends meet.
Your most valuable asset is your time – and oftentimes, a small portion of it offered to others makes a huge impact.
- Have a neighbor with a new family member, or caring for a sick relative? Offer to pick up a few things for them the next time you’re heading to the store anyways. If they offer to pay, fine. If not, it’s one more thing to help them out.
- Sign up with Be The Match to be a part of the bone marrow registry. It only takes a mailed in cheek swab to connect, and you could be saving a life.
- Don’t forget the troops’ families – too often the people left behind when a soldier is deployed feel isolated and desperate. And many times they’re single parenting while their loved one is defending our freedom. Thanking them is a start, but you can also offer to babysit, help out around the house, even give them a ride to the store, or to drop off and pick up a vehicle when it needs repairs.
- You can do the same for the men and women whose service is ended. Many veterans don’t have transportation to and from their medical appointments at VA Hospitals. You can volunteer as a van driver for Disabled American Veterans.
- When a friend’s family member dies, create a one of a kind memory book. Get friends and family members to provide stories, anecdotes and photos of the deceased. You don’t even have to be Creative Memories certified – just put everything in one bound volume your friend can cherish forever.
- If you can’t make an entire book, even just sharing your fond memories is appreciated. Take a moment to celebrate their life and the difference they made.
- Instead of throwing out the flowers after a wedding, consider donating them to a nursing home or hospice care. But don’t just drop them off, personally bring a flower or two to each resident. Sit with them, hear their stories. You’ll probably get more out of it than the joy you bring them.
Be a Listening Ear
- If we know someone is going through a divorce, death or sickness, sometimes we opt to give them space. Occasionally, that’s what they need. More often, though, your attempt to be sensitive leaves them feeling even more isolated and alone. No one will get upset at you for asking if they want to talk, and if that is what they want, they’ll be relieved to be able to share their pain.
- Don’t interrupt and don’t offer solutions. This is something men especially struggle with. More often than not, the person just wants to either vent or talk out the situation to figure it out in their own minds. Don’t fix it for them. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
- Check in with someone. Especially older extended family or friends. While they don’t want to be seen as invalids, they almost always welcome company and are happy to sit and catch up.
Instead of Criticism, Give Praise
- We hear NO far more often than we hear YES. Even from well-meaning folks trying to protect us.
- Make the decision to encourage people to follow their passions and dreams and to fulfil their goals. Even if we think they’re unrealistic.
- By the way, it’s okay to say yes to yourself too. Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish and inspire others to try! When was the last time you saw a movie about someone who took NO for an answer?
- By the same token, instead of always being critical of people, look for opportunities to be positive, praise and encourage them.
- Especially your kids. Instead of always pointing out what they get wrong or when they misbehave, strive to recognize them for success and for acting appropriately. You’ll be impressed by the difference it makes.
- A lot of radio stations and morning news programs welcome people calling in to share good news that happened to them the past week. Call in and share your good news – someone probably needs to hear it.
When You See Something, Say Something
- When you see something good, share it.
- Post on Facebook and Twitter. Take social media away from the arguers and angry trolls and fill it with the positive stories about the world you see. Thank people publicly, share someone else’s good news, make positive comments on their posts.
- Don’t limit it to social media – leave positive post-it notes for friends, family and coworkers when you catch them doing something good.
- If you get great service at a restaurant, thank the server, tell the manager, and be sure to post a positive review. The same goes for retail stores and calling centers. You really want to make an impression? Ask for the corporate address and write a letter to the company, praising the person by name for delivering excellence.
- Don’t forget to do the same at your own workplace. If there’s an employee of the month award, try to find someone to nominate each month for it.
Now It’s Your Turn
It’s time to get out there and be the change you want to see in the world – one act at a time you can be the light that brightens another person’s gloom.
We don’t think one day is enough. But just like each of us doing one thing – it’s a start. And a start is all we need. It’s time to bring hope back into the world. What will you do today to make a difference in someone else’s life?
Leave a comment below about something you did, or share your creative ideas for doing one little thing to help another person.