Community January 16th, 2017

6 Everyday Ways You Can Give Back To Your Community

Giving back to your community, either by volunteering or spreading awareness for causes in your area, isn’t only an amazing way to connect and help those in need, but it’s been scientifically proven to be healthy for you! Those who volunteer have a lower chance of developing depression, feel an increased sense of purpose and self-esteem, and release more dopamine from the brain, resulting in that feeling of happiness often felt after a good workout. Doctors have even found that those who volunteer tend to live longer!

Now, you may be thinking that volunteering must mean giving up a certain percentage of your free time each month. For someone who is extremely busy, this can deter people (or you) from signing up and committing. But it doesn’t have to be time-consuming at all! Here are six easy and straightforward ways that you can give back to your community this week:

1. Clean up the environment

Do you have a favorite park that you like to frequent? Do you live in a tourist-heavy area like we do here in Las Vegas? While you enjoy taking your kiddos to play on the swings or strolling over to your favorite bar, why not pick up any litter you happen to find? Carry a couple of spare trash bags in your car and spend 15-20 minutes during your outing picking up trash that you see. Not only are you helping to keep your favorite spots clean, but you just might encourage other people to do the same!

2. Dust off a book

Libraries are always in need of volunteers to put all those wonderful books back onto the shelves where they belong. So, while you’re there picking up the latest Stephen King novel, you can ask if the librarians need any help that day. You can even step it up a notch and volunteer by reading to children on weekends or who are there for learning programs. This always makes for a super fun and entertaining experience!

3. Like, Share, Retweet

Whether we enjoy it or not, we all spend time glued to our phones and cruising social media. Why not use that time to spread awareness for a local charity? Most charities and organizations have a dedicated Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account. Help them gain likes and attention by sharing their posts and educating your social media fanbase about the work that they’re doing in your community.

4. Run 5Ks and marathons

If you like to stay in shape, or exercising is something that just makes you feel good, why not earn donations while doing something that’s a part of your routine anyway? Run/walk marathons are going on every single weekend, wherever you are, and they are super easy to find! Websites such as Runners World are great resources to search for upcoming races. Some employers will even reimburse you for your entry fee. Make sure to find out if your job has a wellness program that encourages volunteering and healthy living.

5. Visit the elderly

If you know someone who is elderly in your neighborhood and happens to live alone, take a few moments out of your day to stop by and visit. You can bring them a book they might enjoy reading, sit with them to watch their favorite show, eat a home-cooked meal you’ve prepared or just have a quick chat to let them know you’re thinking of them. If you don’t know someone personally in the area, help is always needed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well. Something so simple can brighten someone’s day more than you know.

6. Create a collection program

If your place of employment allows, set up a donation box for your coworkers to give clothes or school supplies to people in need. Even having a place for people to give their spare change can add up to a nice monetary donation towards a charity of your choice. If you want to take it a step further, you can add a contest twist and whichever team or department collects the most will win a prize!

As you can see, the task of volunteering is not daunting or time-consuming at all! Everyone can volunteer in one form or another and incorporate giving back in ways that fit into their specific lifestyle. Even doing just one of these small tasks once a month can make a significant difference in your well-being as well as for your community. And, let’s face it: generosity is contagious. The more you talk about how much fun you are having and how great you feel giving back, others will be sure to follow suit and want to pitch in as well. No good deed accomplished in the name of helping others is too small!