Happy Heart Day!
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON AUGUST 2, 2009 It was on this day two years ago, that my youngest child went under the knife. Laurel, now two, had open heart surgery to correct a heart defect...
There’s no beating around the bush here — it’s been a hard couple of years. Virtual classes, remote work, socially distanced playdates, masks, and vaccines have all become part of our everyday lives, and I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. Unlike a lot of people during this pandemic, I’ve been lucky enough to have steady work, and me and my family are healthy, so I’ve been thinking of ways to give back to those around me. If you’re working on the same train of thought, here are some of the unique ways I’ve found to give back this year.
Regardless of your location, there is almost always a demand for blood donations to help support those in need. Donating blood, as long as you meet the criteria, is as simple as sitting in a chair for 30 minutes while someone makes off with a pint of your blood. Enjoy your complimentary apple juice and snacks and know that you have the potential to save lives. If you have a specific blood type — or the veins to handle the aphorisms treatment — they may request that you donate plasma, platelets, or other individual components that are also essential.
How much time do you spend at your local park or playground with your kids? The city might do its best to keep things clean and neat but if they’re spread too thin, it’s possible that things might get overlooked. Take a look around and see if there are any spaces in your neighborhood or your community that could use a bit of TLC, and plan a cleanup program. You may need to work with the city, especially if it’s public property, but it can be a great way to bring the community together to improve something that you all might use.
There are a growing number of aging adults still living independently, and while most of them are capable of handling most things in their lives, it’s not always easy. Things that they used to do with ease take longer or require assistance, so if you’re looking for ways to give back, consider offering your skills. Maybe your neighbor needs help mowing their yard, or moving around some furniture, or something else that they are now struggling with. Wear your mask and take all necessary COVID precautions — even vaccinated and boosted individuals are at risk with the spread of the Omicron variant, so it’s important that even if you’re helping out, that we take the steps to protect those most vulnerable among us.
It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but depending on where you live, something as simple as buying your weekly lottery ticket can help your local communities. Many states use some or all of the profits from lottery sales to give back to schools. Virginia has been using all of its lottery profits to support K-12 schools since 1999, generating millions of dollars to help maintain and upgrade schools throughout the state.
This is a very broad umbrella, but it gives you a lot of room to make it work for you. Consider volunteering at your local animal shelter if you love cats and dogs. If you’re allergic to fur babies, volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter could give you the tools to give back to your community without triggering your allergies. There are a ton of options out there. Use your imagination and figure out what works for you.
Donating items to local shelters is a great way to give back, but there is a section of the population that doesn’t benefit from these donations — the soldiers overseas fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy every day. Consider putting together some care packages for soldiers, through a program like Any Solider, and showing tour support for the people that work so hard to keep us safe and free.
Speaking of donations, there are always shelters and other programs that are looking for donations. Gently used items aren’t a bad thing, but sometimes having something new can make someone’s day. Socks are among the most commonly requested donation at homeless shelters. You have the option of buying new items to donate or going through your closets and seeing if there is anything that you can part with and might be beneficial for those in need.
Teachers don’t get nearly enough credit for the kind of work that they do, and they need all the help that they can get. Consider sponsoring a classroom. Work with a teacher to figure out what they need, or donate gift cards so they can get the supplies that are necessary to educate future generations. In these cases, we don’t suggest just buying a bunch of random school supplies. There’s only so much you can do with a bunch of off-brand crayons that no one likes or a pack of novelty-shaped erasers.
There are so many ways that you can give back to your community, both during the holiday season and throughout the year. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.