This Is the Year!
Have you written your list of New Year’s Resolutions yet? If you’re like me, one of the items on your list will be to help others and give back. This is a great resolution, because giving back is such a rewarding experience. When we look back on the year, and we wonder if it was well lived, one of the things we’ll ask ourselves, is “Is the world a better place because I was here?” When we can answer that question with an emphatic yes! Yes, the world is a better place because I was here, we feel good about ourselves, and our year is filled with a sense of meaning and purpose.
One Step At a Time
So, here it is the beginning of January, and it’s the perfect time to commit yourself to giving more this year, and the best way to give more this year is to give all throughout the year. And if you think about it, it just makes sense. People need your help all year long. Plus, when you do a little every month, it’s so much easier than trying to do something big at the end of the year– especially around the holidays when there is so much demand for your time and money.
The 12 Month Giving Challenge
Here are a few ideas for something small but meaningful you can do each month of 2014 to help others:
January: Homeless Shelter
Make a donation to your local homeless shelter. Homeless shelters get a lot of love for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but homeless people need to eat and need a place to sleep on January 2nd, too.
This month, make a donation of time or money to help your local homeless.
February: Love on a Senior
Valentines Day makes February the month of love, and you know who could use some love? Senior citizens! They spend a lot of time just hanging out and would love some attention and company. What could you do to let a senior know they are still loved and still valued? If your own grandparents are still alive, you could do something extra special for them. I remember when I put together a mixed CD of big band music for my grandparents, and my 90 year old grandfather looked at the CD and said what is this? So, I also had to buy him a CD player! He loved listening to that music.
Or call a local senior center, and ask them how you could help seniors in your community. They might need help hosting a special event or suggest a specific donation you could make.
March: Local Pet Rescue
Somewhere in your community is an animal shelter or rescue working hard to save animals and they’re doing it with barely enough resources. They would welcome a donation of money or dog blankets. They probably have dogs who need to be walked and cats who need to be caressed.
This month, reach out and support your local homeless pets.
April: Earth Day
Earth Day is a great time to appreciate our connection to the earth. Our lives on this planet are possible and vibrant because of her abundant natural resources. Air fills our lungs. Water quenches our thirst. Plants and animals provide shelter and food. And its natural beauty restores our spirits.
In April, give time or money to caring for her. You’ll find some ideas for Earth Day in the infographic at the bottom of this blog post.
Education is one of the most important tools a young person takes into the world with them, and sometimes that education isn’t available without the generosity of people like you. Education today is expensive, and your donation to a scholarship fund can help one student to make it to college.
You don’t have to focus just on college, because there are important non-traditional sources of education, and instead of a scholarship fund, you could donate to help at-risk students enter apprenticeship programs.
June: Food Bank
Schools can be an important source of food for many families. School breakfast and lunch programs can really help struggling families, and when school is out, they need to find help elsewhere. Your local food bank is a master at efficiency and effectiveness and can turn just a small donation of $10 into 40 meals for families in your community.
So in June, donate to your local food bank and help families in your community eat.
The summer is hot, and we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country where we can just turn on a faucet and water comes out. But not every place is so lucky. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. You can do something about it by making a donation to help bring clean water to another community.
Augusta: Social Justice
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And while he’s right, he’s right because people take action to make it so. What human rights do you care about? LGBT? privacy? equal opportunity for education or legal defense, freedom to speak against your government?
In August, support something that protects or promotes human rights. Make a donation to a local or international charity promoting those right or volunteer your time to support an important piece of legislation.
September: Back to School
Kids are heading back to school, and they need a bunch of stuff: clothes, backpacks, notebooks, pencils. Teachers are taking money out of their own pockets to buy materials they’ll need to teach.
You can help with donations of money or goods.
Did you know that there are no less than 16 health conditions that use October as their Awareness month? The most famous of course is Breast Cancer. This month, take some time to give to improving our health. You could support charities that are researching and treating diseases, or you could support other health initiatives such as getting young people to exercise or getting affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to inner-city communities.
Veteran’s Day happens in November, and we will hear a lot about thanking our veterans. And while we all benefit from the freedoms and rights found in America, only a few have put their lives on the line to defend it. Because of their service, these men and women experience all kinds of hardships ranging from being separated from their families for long periods of time to serious injury and death. Veterans suffer disproportionately high rates of depression, suicide, unemployment, and homelessness.
Thank a veteran for all the sacrifices and hardship they’ve experienced with action. Donate to a charity helping veterans, and call your Congressperson and let them know that veterans are a top priority.
December: Keep Em’ Warm
Baby it’s cold outside. And that means high heating bills, and for struggling families sometimes that means choosing between being warm and eating. You can help families stay warm this month by helping pay their heating bills or making donations of warm clothing.
A Challenge You Can Handle
And there you have it! One small thing you can do every month, and at the end of the year, you will have made your resolution to help others a huge success!
Let me know your progress!
In A Infographic
Here is the challenge in an oh so pretty infographic.