At a Glance: You don’t have to try and solve all of the world’s problems. Pick a cause that’s close to your heart and work to make a small but meaningful impact.
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So many of us feel like we don’t have enough free time or money to give back to our communities. But you don’t have to commit significant hours or dollars to make a big difference. Consider these easy and impactful ways to get involved in your community and improve the world around you.

Align with your interests

The closer your volunteering matches up with your interests, the more likely you are to stay involved. Passionate about animals? Sign up to walk dogs at the local animal shelter. Interested in children? Ask a local school about their needs for volunteers. 

Think local

Help yourself and the local economy by shopping at locally owned businesses or attending community festivals. Do your weekly grocery shopping at a nearby farmer’s market. Go to a fundraiser for schools or nonprofits in your area. You’ll have fun listening to music, looking at art or trying different foods, all while supporting a local cause. Plus, shopping at an area business keeps those dollars right in town, often allowing companies to hire your neighbors.

Give what you have

Most of us have clothes, books, shoes or household items that we don’t use. Go through your closets and gather up items in good condition. Then donate them to organizations such as Goodwill, which employs people to sort and sell donated items. If you’re feeling ambitious, get the neighbors to join a winter coat or sports gear drive.

Make it a family affair

Plan a project with your children to teach them about the value of service. It’s more fun when you give back together. You could pick up garbage around the neighborhood or compile care packages for cancer patients or homeless people. Go green and take them on a bike ride to the library instead of driving, or plant a family garden and share your bounty. Remember, you’re instilling in them lifelong value of service.

Look out for neighbors

Small things, such as bringing dinner to a new mom or shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor, help individuals and build community. Before long you’re forging connections that make for stronger neighborhoods and cities. And in the process, you’ll feel good about the effort you made for others.

 

People who volunteer in their community often say they get more out of it than the people they are helping. That’s because it is gratifying to share your time, talent and treasure with others, knowing you’re making a difference.


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