In another article, we discussed some ideas for charitable giving. Yet there's so much more that you can do for others besides donating money. Many people don't have a lot of money to give, particularly in these difficult economic times, but you can give back to the community and help others by donating your time or possibly your expertise. In many ways, these charitable activities are even more rewarding, as you can get to see firsthand how people are helped by your contribution.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Imagine the satisfaction of helping someone build their home. Imagine working with your hands, meeting other volunteers and then seeing a family get a decent home. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. If you're looking for a sense of community and you want to do something that has tangible results that you can see, this would be an excellent option.
DONATING TIME DURING SPRING BREAK
Students usually have more time on their hands than money, so donating time often is the best option for high school and college kids. One of the growing trends around the country in recent years has kids in high school and college choosing to donate their time over spring break instead of partying in the typical hot spots. This is happening all over the country, and New Orleans has been a popular destination in the aftermath of Katrina. Students are doing all sorts of work from cleanup projects to building projects. The work itself may not be as fun as a pool party in Panama City, but hanging out for a week with kids your own age can be a fun experience, and incredibly rewarding as well.
BIG BROTHER AND BIG SISTER PROGRAMS
Sadly, many boys and girls in this country lack stable adults in their life. This is particularly true for young boys with the growing number of single-mom households. You can have a tremendous impact on the life of a young kid by joining Big Brothers Big Sisters and help a child realize his or her potential and build their future. Keep in mind that this requires a real commitment, but the rewards are long-lasting. You will change your own life along with the life of a child by getting involved.
If you enjoy working with kids but don't have the time needed to fully commit to a Big Brother program, try volunteering to coach a youth sports team. Whether it's tee ball, baseball, soccer, football or whatever other sports your city may offer, teaching kids how to play the game the right way is a very rewarding experience that also gives you the opportunity to discuss the importance of teamwork, respect and playing by the rules. Sure, it takes a ton of patience, especially if you're working with really young kids, but it can also be a ton of fun.
DONATING YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Charities and nonprofits need all sorts of assistance, from lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects and of course health care professionals. Regardless of your skill set, your services can be put to good use in many organizations, and professional skills can have a multiplying effect. Saving professional fees for organizations frees up donations so they can be put to use advancing the organization's mission. You can also help organizations avoid costly mistakes that can happen when they can't afford professional help.
It's one of the simplest things you can do for others, but it's also one of the most important. It takes little time, but you can literally save a life. When disaster strikes, many decide to give blood because they want to do something, and these gestures are very important as the need for blood becomes critical in times of crisis. But the need is always there, and this is something everyone can do to give back to the community.
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