Even if no one knows our name, even if we are not rich, even if we are out of work and a bit down on our luck, we can still make a difference.
And we don’t need money. We don’t need connections. We just need to open our eyes. Look around and we will see someone who could use our help, today. Here are some ideas to help get started:
Offer to pay for someone’s groceries. This has only happened to me twice in the 45 years I have been buying food, most recently about a month ago.
The woman in line, in front of me was paying with a check but there was a hitch; she only had her bonus card. Her wallet had been stolen the night before. When told they couldn’t accept her check without ID, she started to leave. I quietly asked the cashier to add the cost of her groceries to mine. It wasn’t much but the sweet smile it brought to the woman’s face and her thanks more than made up for the money. All I asked in return was that she do the same for someone else if she got the chance
Clean out your clothes closet. Another easy one, especially if you are changing jobs or leaving your career. I worked for years as an executive. For the last 2 years, I have been unemployed and haven’t worn any of the expensive, business clothes that take up space in my closet and drawers.
Maybe I thought if I got rehired, I would use them again. Maybe I thought I would sell them to bring in some money. Whatever the reason, I woke up a few weeks ago, bundled them up and took them to a local mission that helps people get back on their feet and back into the job world. I should have done it 2 years ago!
Volunteer at a library, school, shelter. I know that volunteering could be a bit unnerving. My first thoughts were I probably won’t be good at it. It might take up too much time. The people I’m working with might not like me. All of those thoughts blew right out of my head the first time I sat and read to children at our local library. They were banished by the shy smiles, the giggles, the questions and the genuine interest the kids displayed. I gave my time but they gave me something, too – their joy.
Donate canned goods. Another simple idea but I know I’ve walked past the barrels asking for a can of beans or soup without dropping anything in. Usually I was in a hurry, ran in for a couple of items like butter and half and half and just didn’t have an extra anything to toss in the barrel. Sitting here, I am ashamed of myself for buying luxuries and not sharing necessities. When I realized just how small my actions were, I vowed never to pass up another barrel or box and I haven’t.
Eat in and donate what you save to a cause. Since I am no longer getting a salary, I have rediscovered the economy of home cooking. I think it hit me the last time my husband and I were at our favorite pub. We both ordered hamburgers and side orders of coleslaw. My 8 ounce burger cost $13.50 because I wanted it on ciabatta bread. My husband’s was only $11.50. The actual cost of our meal, without overhead, was about $8.00. We paid $27.00 for 1 pound of ground beef, 6 ounces of coleslaw and two rolls.
I wasn’t feeling very well when we left the restaurant. But that experience led to an aha moment. Home cooking was cheaper and healthier and it gave me the joy of being able to say, “I made that.” It also gave me the joy of being able to donate the $50.00 we saved by “eating in” to a charity that would make that money go a whole lot farther than I ever could.
Each of these simple actions makes a difference. Each action you take can make a difference, too.
Tomorrow, one more easy way to help make the world a better place just by planting a seed.