Volunteer your time to an organization you care about. I volunteer with Puget Sound Susan G. Komen for a Cure and I know many people who volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, their local theaters or symphony or through their churches. If you don’t have a specific organization in mind, you can find volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Match.
Volunteer your time to those you know. Drive an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, collect your neighbors’ mail while they’re out-of-town, join your child’s PTA, surprise your family with a home-cooked meal.
Give money or other items. Food banks always have wish lists. Find out the wish list for your area and donate items on the list and/or put together a food drive at your office or in your neighborhood. Clean out that closet and give your gently used items to Goodwill or a similar organization. Charities, who are always struggling, are really struggling in the current recession. If you have a little to spare, give it to an organization whose work you believe in. My favorites? Susan G. Komen, Heifer International, and the World Wildlife Fund. With Heifer International’s gift catalog, you can donate outright, help fund a project or choose from a variety of animals such as ducks, geese, or water buffalo to give to a family. If you have young children, nieces, nephews or friends, the World Wildlife Fund has a terrific program where you can “adopt” an endangered animal. For a minimum donation of $50 you can choose to receive a stuffed animal of the species you’ve chosen to “adopt,” an adoption certificate and species information card, a photo of the animal, and a gift bag. The stuffed animals are high-quality and super cuddly. Over the years, I’ve given this gift to my younger sisters, my nephew and my step-daughters. It’s been a hit every time.
You can also check out and join Lindsey‘s Give and Feel Good Challenge by doing a little something for someone else once a day, every day until Thanksgiving (although you don’t have to stop there).
No matter what you do, the recipient will appreciate your gesture and you’ll benefit by feeling good and, apparently, prolonging your life 😉