How can I be charitable when I'm broke? It's a question many people ask themselves towards the end of the year, when New Year's resolutions are looming large, or at other public holidays such as Thanksgiving, when we feel there's much to be thankful for, but also much that needs addressing urgently. It’s not difficult to marry a social conscience with a lack of money. You actually don’t need money to make a difference to someone’s life. And it makes a difference to your life too because there is so much good in selflessly helping others.
1. Knit for Victory
During WWII, thousands of women knitted woolly socks, hats and scarves for the soldiers at the front, doing their "bit" for the war effort. The war on want is just as much in need of your handicraft skills. If you love knitting, look around for organizations that seek handmade stuff like blankets, scarves, mittens, socks or baby outfits they can sell at stalls or use for disadvantaged kids. You can even give knitting supplies and left-over yarn. Stuff you don't want may be desperately needed by somebody somewhere.
2. Transcribe Handwritten Documents for the Smithsonian
The good folks at The Smithsonian are hording enormous collections of handwritten documents, letters and diaries that need to be transcribed. They've asked for volunteers to come forward who will translate cursive into typed-in text for them. There are some amazing documents among their collection, such as a letter from Georgia O'Keeffe and the fascinating diary of a lady called Mary Henry who documented her life during and after the Civil War in Washington D.C. It's a fabulous way to get involved with history, making historic records widely available to everyone. Look up which projects are still available and get typing for the greater good of all. transcription.si.edu
3. Become a Clinic Escort for Women Seeking Reproductive Health Services
Clinics providing abortions in addition to other health services are sadly often picketed by anti-choice groups. This can be very intimidating to the patients, whatever the reason of going to the clinic in the first place. Help them by becoming a clinic escort, creating a safe space for women and acting as a bodyguard against protesters. You will need a calm disposition and a willingness to wait around for hours under rather boring conditions, and you must develop a thick skin to deal with protesters who might discover your home address and try to harass you outside the clinic setting. However, this is one of the most empowering and protective services you can ever do for another woman, so worthwhile in a global sisterhood still trying to stamp out medieval attitudes. Call your local clinic to discover where you can get involved in your community.
4. Donate Towels, Blankets and Food
One way to help is to donate food, blankets and clothing to homeless or women's shelters, but on a smaller scale, you one can donate old towels and blankets, even pet toys bought for 99 cents, to animal shelters. Although this need is rarely advertised, the majority of animal shelters will gratefully accept such gifts, as they mean donated money can be spent on food and medicines instead. Not only are you keeping your worn towels and blankets out of landfill sites, you are making cages and kennels more comfortable for abandoned, homeless pets.
5. Walking Shelter Dogs
Instead of worrying about paying gym fees, why not volunteer at a dog shelter and become a dog walker? Most dog shelters don't have enough members of staff to give every dog the attention and exercise they need. It's cruel to keep dogs and other animals caged up all the time, but shortage of helping hands often forces this on those who'd dearly like to look after animals better. Get in touch with your local dog/animal shelter or use the walkzee app. Being locked up for weeks, sometimes months on end can affect a dog's behavior adversely, making it less likely for the animal to be re-homed. Your need for exercise could do a few pooches the world of good - and save you paying for a gym membership.
6. Donate Suitcases and Travel Bags in Good Condition to Foster Kids
Sadly, most foster children have to lug their few belongings from foster home to foster home in garbage bags because they are not being provided with travel bags, backpacks or suitcases. This unnecessary and rather upsetting state of affairs is being addressed by a number of organizations, such as suitcasesforkids.org, which was founded by then 10-year-old Aubry Burnside in 1995, and itsmybag.org, which boasts multiple drop-off locations. These travel bags and cases don't have to comply with airline regulations, as they are mostly used for short local journeys. It's a good way to do your good deed and hand over suitable bags that might otherwise just clutter up your wardrobe.
7. Supply Home-grown Food to Pantries
Are you green-fingered and eager to help? Local pantries and food banks usually receive donations of dried food or food in cans, but few fresh vegetables and fruit. If you have fruit trees with surplus produce or a vegetable patch that yields more than you can use, there are a few organizations that will help you harvest your surplus bounty and pass it on to where it's really needed. stuffyoudontwant.com
8. Homeless People Need Water and Socks
Working with young homeless people may require more skills and knowledge than you possess to be of actual use to them, but providing them with bottled water and clean socks is something anyone can do. If you live in a neighborhood where homeless people often approach you at stoplights, why not store a supply of water bottles and clean socks in your car?
9. Eating Less Meat
How can eating less meat help anyone other than pigs, cows and chickens? Not only will a diet with less meat in it make you healthier in the long run, you will be helping the planet's depleted ozone layer. "Farting cow syndrome", a by-product of large-scale meat production, adds greatly to the greenhouse effect responsible for climate change. Land made available to grazing is not available to other food production, thus depriving far more people of food than actually feeding them.
What other money-free ways do you know of to give back?
Thanks go to Bustle.com for the info for this article.