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waiting-for-charity-1576577-639x426There are so many benefits to supporting your community. The primary reward is being an agent of good. The energy you invest can save lives! Here are fulfilling ways to aid your neighbors.

  1. Donate to food drives.

Charities primarily rely on donations to survive. Food drives are a popular vehicle, collecting non-perishable goods for hungry people. Donations are critical since federal funding is dwindling.

According to BuzzFeed, food banks prefer healthy items, so beneficiaries receive nutritious meals. Here are some you’re encouraged to provide:

  • low-sodium soup, vegetables, and beans
  • unsalted nuts
  • no sugar added canned fruit
  • 100 percent juice boxes
  • shelf-stable milk
  • whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal
  • canola and olive oil
  • peanut butter
  • low-sugar cereals and granola bars
  • popcorn

Example

At the corporate level, Kroger donates its produce to Feeding America, a network of national food banks. The grocery retailer also gives $3 million to the charity, along with employee support for program logistics. If you shop at Kroger, join its Community Rewards Program. The grocer will donate money to your chosen charities, the amounts based on your quarterly purchases.

  1. Attend gala events.

Galas are festive fundraisers! Typically they feature elaborate dinners requiring a ticket purchase. They often celebrate an occasion, honoree, service, or brand. Organizations may auction prizes, services, and travel packages, donated by businesses. Some galas include games, and live entertainment is usually provided. While supporting a cause, you’ll enjoy a luscious meal and possibly lucrative winnings!

Example

Throughout the US, communities hold galas benefiting the work of the American Cancer Society. Events take the form of costume parties, black tie affairs, and Hawaiian luaus. High-profile businesses and prominent families orchestrate the details.

You can participate in several ways. You can opt to buy tickets, donate auction items, and fund bids. Your contribution supports programs aiding people affected by cancer.

  1. Save lives by donating blood.

According to the RedCross, in the US, someone needs blood every two seconds. A car accident victim can require up to 100 pints! The average transfusion of red blood cells consists of three pints.

From these numbers, you can see the dire need for blood donations. Every day, blood banks require 36,000 units of red blood cells, 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma. The American Red Cross fulfills 40 percent of our country’s blood supply at 2,600 hospitals.

To be eligible to donate, you must be in good health, at least 17 years old, and at least 110 lbs. Giving blood is safe and easy. Just register, provide your medical history, and take a mini-physical. After making your donation, you’ll receive refreshments. You can expedite the donor process by applying for a RapidPass and scheduling an appointment.

You’ll leave the donation site gratified by knowing you’ve saved three lives. Here are four other potential benefits of giving blood.

Example

The Red Cross partners with businesses through its SAF Giving Program. One member, Home Depot, improves the lives of military veterans by building and renovating their homes. Since 2011, the company has transformed over 17,000 houses.

  1. Preserve essential services.

Some non-profits run on volunteer power, without which they can’t exist. Offering your help yields several rewards. Dedicating just two hours a week will make you a happier person! HelpGuide advises that volunteering will help you avoid depression, reduce stress, and give you a sense of purpose. In the process, you’ll make friends and increase self-confidence. The skills you develop can advance your career.

Volunteerism is vital for:

  • museums, libraries, art galleries
  • senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals
  • animal shelters, wildlife centers, rescue organizations
  • after-school programs, youth organizations, sports teams
  • national parks, historical restorations, conservation organizations

The American Red Cross provides a training program for several types of positions. You can volunteer as a greeter, office assistant, team leader, transportation specialist, trainer, refreshment host, or community outreach specialist.

Create your own schedule while earning documented service hours. You’ll enjoy the company of friendly staff. The Red Cross will acknowledge your service with special recognition activities.

Example

In Virginia, the annual “Renewal and Remembrance” event pools the resources of numerous landscape companies. Hundreds of professionals groom the grounds of our nation’s largest military cemetery. Among them, Lawn Doctor donates its lawn care services to Arlington National Cemetery.

Workers volunteer free weed control, mulching, tree trimming, mowing, and landscaping. It’s the company’s way of honoring the 400,000+ military service members buried there and covering maintenance costs. Without volunteer support, the cemetery would fall into ruin.

  1. Become a scout leader or mentor.

Since children are the future of our nation, it’s imperative to educate, train, and nurture them well. It’s also great fun! Here are ways you can positively impact young lives:

Scout Leader

Girl Scout Leaders assist with planning group activities, fundraising, snacks, and transportation. They coordinate annual cookie sales. As camp staff, they show girls the wonder of nature and the fun they can have outdoors.

Within the Girl Scout organization, applying is relatively easy in four steps. First, complete the Girl Scout Volunteer Application. Then, undergo a criminal background check. Match the needs of the Council to your interests. For example, you can work either in small or large groups, near your home, or in outdoor programs. Take the orientation and training at your convenience in a nearby location. The same goes for becoming a Boy Scout Leader.

Mentor

As a Big Brother or Big Sister, you’ll be matched with a child from a low-income, single-parent household. Children are ages six to 18. Twice each month for a few hours, you’ll spend quality time with your “sibling”. You and your charge decide what to do, with parental approval.

You can play a board game, read together, share a pizza, visit a playground, or make crafts. The goal is learning about your child while imparting values and helping them feel loved. A Match Support Specialist from the agency stays in regular contact with you, providing guidance.

To apply, access the online inquiry form by typing your zip code in the “Interested in Volunteering?” box. A representative from your regional office will contact you. Then you’ll be matched with a child who will treasure your friendship. Famous Big Brothers and Big Sisters include Tim Allen, Suzanne DeLaurentiis, Martin Freeman, and Hill Harper.

Kindness Multiplied

Each kind deed you perform is a seed, reaping a bountiful harvest. Your generosity prompts a ripple effect of goodwill. The possibilities for giving back are limitless.

Consider these exciting opportunities:

  • Participate in food drives.
  • Attend gala events.
  • Save lives by donating blood.
  • Preserve essential services.
  • Become a scout leader or mentor.

You’ll feel so gratified!

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