What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. — Nelson Mandela

Being a member of a community is a gift. The way you say thank you for that gift is by giving back and extending your special talents to those around you.

Being a member of a community is a gift.  The way you say thank you for that gift is by giving back and extending your special talents to those who can benefit from them.

And here’s the best part;  There are lots of ways to give back!

Volunteer.  Where ever you are in the world, there are organizations that need your help.  You can make volunteering part of your regular routine, or just help out at the major events.

Donate.  Money is always needed to support the work done by charities.  And because many charities work closely with local businesses, they can often stretch your dollar further than you can.  Make sure you’re giving to reputable charities.  Check out Charity Navigator for more information.

Organize.  Can’t connect with a charity you believe in?  Want to more?  Organize your own event!  It doesn’t have to be huge, or even out of your way.  Every year we have a Christmas Bonfire & Carol Sing at our home and ask people to bring donations to the local shelter.

Here are just a few causes that can use some assistance.

Animals.  Volunteer at a local pet shelter.  Foster needy pets.  Donate food and other supplies.  Participate in walks.  Train a service dog.

People.  Volunteer at soup kitchens, etc.  Donate to your church, food pantry, clothing and furniture resellers.  Participate in walks, dinners, events.

Health.  Work with the elderly, shut-ins, the mentally ill.  Make quilts, or other needed items for preemies and other sick people.

Education.  Work in the schools.  Donate to teachers through Donors Choose.  Collect box tops.  Participate in education policy making.

International.  Buy a family in a developing country an animal.  Send malaria nets to affected countries.  Donate money to international causes.  Contact policy makers about international aid.

It doesn’t really matter how you give back, just that you do.  Find a cause that it is important to you, not one that you feel you should care about, or that is in fashion right now.  There are lots of charities out there – some big, some small – so just about anything that’s important to you is important to someone else, too.

Assignment: Get connected and start giving back.

Next week: Being Grateful

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