While the media tends to give attention to wealthy philanthropists, you don't have to have surplus cash to give something back to your community. In many cases, your time and empathy is far more valuable than cash donations. If you have the desire to help others, there are many ways you can help the needy in your community.
Use Your Creative Talents
Whether you like to draw, sew, write, or paint, your creative skills can brighten the hearts of sick children in your local hospital. There are many children confined to hospital beds in every community, and some of them are struggling with terminal illnesses. While you may not be able to cure them, you can make their days a little brighter with handmade cards and artwork.
Feed the Hungry
While you would have to find out if any zoning laws restrict this type of activity, you can build a free curbside food pantry. Much like the curbside libraries we see in many neighborhoods, your pantry can offer free items for those in need of sustenance. Fill the pantry with nonperishable foods, and hang a sign on the pantry to let people know the items are free to take.
Volunteer to Visit the Elderly or Mentally Ill
Spending your time with the elderly, or as a mental health volunteer, can be a very rewarding experience. Those suffering from mental illness, or those unable to live on their own due to failing health, are often locked away in institutions, where they have very little contact with society. You can help chase away the depressive episodes these circumstances create by visiting the residents of these facilities. Sometimes, a warm smile and light conversation is all they need.
Volunteer to Tutor Others
You can work with children, or you can volunteer to help older adults learn. People of all ages suffer from learning disabilities that have kept them from reaching their full potential. Even in the digital information age, there are many people struggling with basic literacy skills. Spending just a few hours a week as a tutor can change someone's life immensely. If you're not sure how to get started, contact area high schools and colleges to find out more.
Serve Warm Meals
There are millions of people who can't leave their homes, and don't have the ability to prepare healthy meals for themselves. By working with organizations that bring hot meals to the elderly, physically ill, and handicapped, you can ensure more people in your community are eating nutritious meals on a daily basis. While it may not seem like much, your visit will help those in need feel as though they matter.
Organize a Fundraiser
If there is a particular cause that you feel passionate about, you can organize a fundraiser for that charity. It can be helpful to contact the organization, so you can learn about how tax laws will affect their ability to accept larger donations. Once you get the go ahead, you can begin organizing an event. Partnering with local businesses, and promoting your event on social media websites, will help you raise awareness and interest in your fundraiser.
Foster a Needy Pet
Maybe you're more of an animal lover than a people person. You can still help those in your community by offering to foster a dog or cat. This is an opportunity to get abandoned shelter animals out of cages and into real loving environments until permanent homes can be found for them. Animals in shelters often suffer from depression and anxiety, which affects their appeal. By helping them stay happy and healthy, you can improve the chances that these animals will be adopted sooner.
Spending your time helping those in need is a rewarding experience. It will help you learn more about the people in your community, while you work to create better lives for those who are less fortunate. Whether you choose to donate money, or to volunteer your time, every small act will create positive change in your neighborhood.