Many people in our communities have a variety of needs going unmet, which means there’s more than one way to help. Whether you’re able to make financial contributions or just have time to volunteer, there are plenty of ways to help those in need.
Whether your donation takes the form of money or items like clothing, used home goods, or food, make sure it’s going to a reputable charity. Do your research before writing a check or dropping off donations at a resale shop to make sure the money or profits garnered from the resale of your donated items are going towards the charity’s mission and not its CEO’s paycheck.
If you’re donating items, always think about what you’re donating and the dignity of the person who may receive it. If it’s a cast-off item that’s no longer good enough for you, think critically about whether it’s good enough for someone else. If donating food to a food shelf, call ahead to see if there are specific items they need that is often overlooked. Some commonly needed items include feminine products, powdered milk, and food items that comply with religious regulations like kosher and halal.
Look for organizations like www.lifesaversfoundation.org that are registered as nonprofits. Depending on the specific classification an organization is operating under, they will have federal tax exemptions and it may be possible to write off donations made to them.
Get Trained in First Aid
Basic first aid training, available through groups like the American Heart Association or Red Cross, is an invaluable asset for being able to help those in need. Understanding how to treat minor injuries or keep someone alive while waiting for more experienced medical personnel to arrive can have a life-or-death impact on someone, particularly someone who may not have the financial resources to access healthcare.
One particularly helpful first aid practice to understand is how to administer naloxone in the event you come across someone suffering from an overdose. Naloxone can be purchased at any pharmacy.
Carry Compassion Kits
Compassion kits are small packages of basic items that can be given out to people in need instead of cash. They are easy to assemble and can include anything you think may be helpful, including bottled water, gift cards to grocery stores or restaurants, non-perishable foods like granola bars, toothbrushes with toothpaste, hand warmers, etc. Carry a few of these in a backpack or your car so you can distribute them to people you see while walking or driving around town. Consider including information about local charities that may be able to provide further support.
Support Education Initiatives
Education plays a massive role in anyone’s success. In addition to supporting charities like food shelves or homeless shelters, look into organizations in your area that are looking to support education.
Groups that combat achievement gaps, provide resources like textbooks and supplies to underfunded schools or offer after-school academic support programs exist in many communities, and supporting them could mean ending the cycle of poverty in its tracks.
Not everyone has the monetary resources to make large donations to charitable groups and funds, but there are still ways to help. If you have training in the medical, counseling, or legal fields, see if any local groups can use your talents. If you don’t have specific training, there are always more generalized volunteering opportunities available at shelters, food shelves, and donation centers.
Whether you’re able to make financial contributions or just have time to volunteer, there are plenty of ways that you can help those in need.
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