Make 2014 the year that your family makes a difference. Try one or several of these ways to give back in 2014 and give New Year’s resolutions a new spin.
1. Donate Items to your Local Animal Shelter or a Rescue
Many animal shelters and animal rescue organizations need supplies and donations on an ongoing basis. There are many ways that you can make a difference in the life of an animal, from being a foster to donating supplies like newspaper, blankets, toys, animal food and dishes. Or you can have collect money and make a donation. Check with your local ASPCA (http://www.aspca.org/get-involved), the Humans Society (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/) or find a local rescue in your area to support (http://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search?)
2. Start a Community Recycling Program
Starting a recycling program in your neighborhood, community or city can be a big undertaking, but the results are well worth it. You can start with your own family and branch out from there, inspiring others to follow suit. Earth 911 has some great tips for getting started at http://earth911.com/general/start-a-community-recycling-program/. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides a detailed outline for starting a recycling program in your area, although it is on a somewhat larger scale, at http://www.epa.gov/region04/rcra/mgtoolkit/starting.html. What is important is getting started and actually making a difference.
3. Make a Blanket for a Child
Project Linus (http://www.projectlinus.org/) is a nationwide organization that collects blankets and gives them to children “in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug” (Project Linus website). Any blanket style is accepted, as long as the blankets are homemade, washable, doesn’t have any pins and comes from an environment that is smoke free. Blanket patterns are available on the Project Linus website. There are many different patterns available for your family to choose as a project, including a weighted blanket pattern for children with sensory processing disorder or children with autism.
4. Go Green
When you go green, everyone wins. Families learn the importance of protecting the planet and often save a few dollars in the process. But going green goes way beyond recycling. There are tons of fun, interesting ways that your family can go green in 2014. Check out this list of 40 ways to go greener at home http://theartofsimple.net/tips-to-go-green-at-home/. Better Homes and Gardens also has a good list of tips on their Daily Green page (http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/tips/).
5. Help Protect the Planet
The Nicodemus Wilderness Project (http://www.wildernessproject.org/projects.php) connects volunteers to public lands so that they can clean and beautify the area. There are several different projects from which you and your family can choose, including the Apprentice Ecologist Project (http://www.wildernessproject.org/volunteer_apprentice_ecologist.php). If you don’t live near any public lands why not schedule a giving back family vacation?
6. Pay it Forward
Pay if Forward has become a catchphrase in our society for doing something nice for someone on the stipulation that at some point they will ‘pay it forward’ by doing a kindness for someone else. The beauty of this concept, as explained in the book and major motion picture of the same name, is that YOU get to choose how you are going to ‘pay it forward.’ The Pay if Forward Foundation (http://www.payitforwardfoundation.org/) is a great place to better understand how it all works and you can get some great ideas on their blog page (http://www.pifexperience.org/). In the end, though, the sky’s the limit. You and your family can make a commitment to showing a kindness to someone several times a week, daily, you choose. It may be buying coffee for the person in line behind you at Starbucks or shoveling snow for a neighbor. There are no limits on kindness.
7. Sponsor a Missionary
Missionaries travel to different areas, many times hostile areas, to bring the gospel to all the corners of the earth. There are several organizations that allow you to sponsor a missionary. You can become a Partner in Missions at Global Missions (http://globalmissions.com/support/enroll-as-pim) or you can choose an organization and sponsor a missionary by accessing this dmoz directory http://www.dmoz.org/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Christianity/Missions/Organizations/Worldwide/. Of course you can also check with your church and see what missionary organizations they support.
8. Become an Angel
This is actually two organizations in one. You and your family can provide support, encouragement and inspiration to someone who is going through chemo (Chemo Angels) or to someone who is 65 or older and is in need of attention (Senior Angels). Visit Chemo Angels (http://chemoangels.wix.com/chemo-angels-1/senior-angels/senior_angels.htm) for information on how to get your “buddy” and start making a difference in someone’s life today. Once assigned your buddy, you can send cards, messages, encouragement and help in their recovery – or just to let them know that they are not alone.
9. Help a Family in Need
You can make a difference in the life of a family or individual who is living in poverty. The Box Project (http://www.boxproject.org/) encourages its volunteers to establish meaningful relationships while offering material aid and promoting education. When you sign up at this site, they will match you with a recipient family living in rural poverty in the United States. As a sponsor, you are encouraged to exchange letters of encouragement, mentoring and inspiration with your family as well as send them boxes of food, supplies, clothing and other needed items each month. There is no monetary limit although the site states the average family sponsor’s budget is approximately $50 a month.
10. Fulfill a Soldier’s Wish List
Our United States soldiers overseas don’t have access to many of the things that we take for granted. Hygiene products, snacks, canned foods and reading material are at the top of many soldiers’ wish lists. Now you can help support our soldiers and fulfill their wish lists through Any Soldier (http://www.anysoldier.com/index.cfm). They have a unique search feature that allows you to view emails from soldiers expressing the particular needs in their area. You select a name to get the full address, then you can fulfill a wish for a soldier!
These are just suggestions, ideas. You and your family may come up with different ideas. Brainstorm together and come up with ways you can make a difference in 2014. The important thing is to get the discussion going then act.
from Kevin and all of us at More4kids, Happy New Years 2014!!
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