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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » The Randoms » How can you give back?

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Author Topic: How can you give back?
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 1679

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Year round, there are people in your community and around the globe who are in need. Whether you observe the holiday season or not, there are a couple of reasons why it can be particularly important to give right now. First, some places are approaching the coldest, bitterest part of the year. (It was 24 degrees F where I live this morning with a wind that cut right through your clothing.) Secondly, it is important to recognize that charities who do help are facing the same economic slump that the rest of us are right now. For many people, when times get a bit tight, giving is one of the first places they cut back.

Even when things are hard, it is important to remember that there are those out there with needs much greater and more serious than our own. Those without a roof over their heads or enough food to fill their stomachs or who may not have enough clothing to keep them from the cold. Many of us are blessed to have loved ones, but there are people who are lonely right now. No matter how young or old you are, no matter how much you have, we all have something that we can give.

I wanted to post this topic for two reasons. Initially to remind us all to give. And also so that we can share some tips and places where we might be able to best help our fellow beings. I'll start by giving a few suggestions, and it would be great to have everybody chime in with places and giving "hints" that might inspire others to get out and help!

  • Look around you and see who is in need. Many organizations have donations drives this time of year. Look for places that are expressing a great need.
  • Find a cause you care about. There are all sorts of places to help...homeless shelters, battered women's shelters, animal shelters, soup kitchens, food banks, etc.
  • No money? Don't worry! There are more ways to help than you can count, so if you're tight on cash that's fine. You can donate canned/boxed food to your local food bank or drop off a bag of pet chow at the animal shelter. We've all probably got those sweaters and coats that we aren't planning on wearing again, and your local shelter would love to have them to hand out to those in need. Even if you don't have items that you can give, we all probably have a few hours we could donate to hand out meals or just visit with people.
  • Make it a group effort. Looking for a fun holiday activity to share with friend or family? Volunteering or donating can be a great choice.
  • Looking for a good gift? Consider donating in someone else's name. What do you get for that person who has everything? One really wonderful thing would be to give to someone else who truly has a need. Consider donating money or items in the name of your gift receiver and then giving them a nice card that says you donated X in their name to Y organization.
  • Choose a reputable place to give. Unfortunately, not everyone is as honest as we wish they were. Some dishonest individuals may set up fake charities where none of your donation goes to help people. Other organizations have high overheads and little of your gift might actually make it to those in need (this does not make it a "bad organization" per say, but you still may want to consider this when giving). Make sure that when you are donating, you choose organizations where your gift can and will be put to good use. Take a few minutes to learn about the charity where you plan to donate to make sure that they are the real deal. You can do this easily through a quick web search.

What other suggestions do folks have?

[ 12-12-2008, 01:55 PM: Message edited by: KittenGoddess ]

Sarah Liz

Posts: 7316 | From: USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 33665

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Sarah Liz, fantastic topic! I really love the idea of donating in someone's name as a gift. I never would have thought of that, but it really is a great idea.

A few suggestions of my own:
If you type in a google search for "volunteer [name of your city]" you can usually find a website that lists all the local volunteer opportunities in your city. Next week and the week after are going to be pretty busy weeks, and many places will need all the volunteers they can get. This is also the time when the volunteer work tends to be on the more cheerful side. For instance, a number of shelters (homeless, elderly, domestic abuse, children's) and hospitals need volunteers to wrap and distribute gifts. I'll be doing that all next week, and I can't think of a more rewarding way to give back. Putting a smile on someone else's face is always a great feeling.

Often those websites that list volunteer opportunities will also have the "wish lists" of all the local non-profit agencies, including the animal shelters. Domestic abuse shelters often take children's toys (but please, make sure they're in good condition, otherwise they'll just have to be thrown away) as well as household supplies, and the animal shelters can usually use chew toys, blankets, and pet supplies. (Do be sure to call up before dropping stuff off to make sure that it is needed at a particular location. Sometimes one location may get plenty of stuff, but another won't.) Also, if your local grocery store has a free ham special (my local grocery store allows you to buy a ham for free with a certain number of coupons, which you earn by spending a certain amount of money), if you or someone you know doesn't need it, the homeless shelters can often use them, as can the domestic abuse shelters. So be sure to collect those coupons, and remind your friends and family to do the same.

Another great thing to do is to sign up to be a visitor at elderly homes, hospitals, and special needs homes. If you contact one of those places and ask to do that, they will usually place you with those people who normally don't receive many visitors. It's a shame that anyone should have to spend time alone to begin with, and it can be even harder at the holidays when a lot of other people around them do receive visitors. Spending just an hour reading or playing a game can be such a wonderful gift to another person, and it's not very much of your time at all. It can also give you the opportunity to get to know another person and make some great connections.

Also, you might consider asking your family to spend the money they would otherwise on your gifts or stocking stuffers on a charity of your choice. Even $15 or $20 can be a nice donation to a charity organization.

I definitely second Sarah Liz's suggestions about going for something you care about and that needs help. There are so many good causes out there, and so many that are in need. However, if you're a broke full-time college student like me, you just can't afford to give to a lot of places. When I decide where I want to give my time or money, I spend some time researching and seeing what places have a real and urgent need, and also which places have philosophies and approaches to helping others that I agree with. Picking one cause over another doesn't mean that you don't value those other causes or feel that they are not worthy of help, but that you feel the cause you picked is the one that needs the most help and provides the best service and care to others.

Sometimes you do have to make compromises, though. For instance, my top place to give to is the local domestic abuse shelter because a) they are very underfunded, b) they provide counseling, housing, and childcare to battered women and children, c) they assist people leaving abusive partners in finding legal services, d) they provide childcare to single moms that qualify who do not live in the shelter (thereby allowing them a safe place to leave their kids so they can go to work without having to worry), and e) they have an outreach program to educate the local schools. However, the organization is rather religious, which makes me somewhat uncomfortable, especially since it's only Christianity that they focus on instead of being inclusive of all religions. But I value the work they do, and I feel it is so important in my community, so I overlook the religious aspect, especially since they're the only domestic abuse shelter in the area. As some of you look for a place to give to, that is something to keep in mind, that their beliefs may not agree with yours, but if their work is invaluable, it might be worth ignoring that disagreement.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 33665

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I want to give this a bump since it's that time of year again, and add in that if you don't have anything on your wishlist (or NEEDlist, as the case may be), then you might do what I'm doing this year, which is ask that a donation be made in my name to a charity of my choice (by the by, Scarleteen is in the midst of a fundraising drive) rather than giving me a gift.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Another thing I haven't seen mentioned is donating skill, like with crafts! If you're handy with needlework, for instance, there's several charities that accept donations of easy-to-make items such as Knit-a-Square, which collects 8-inch squares to sew together to make blankets for AIDS orphans in South Africa, and Leprosy Bandages, which take knitted/crocheted ace-type bandages to donate to people with leprosy in Vietnam.

I'm pretty broke, but I can still shell out for the yarn and some postage to send. It's relaxing, fun, and feels good. [Smile]

Posts: 4636 | From: USA/Northern Europe | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I was keen to donate a small sum of cash to Scarleteen as my appreacition for the job well done on educating the young!

Though my cash donation seems small(I can only give what i can),I would still like to help!

Any idea how I can donate?Since I'm not from the States

Posts: 48 | From: in mua beauty world,where everyone beautiful leaves there XD | Registered: Mar 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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