With the season of gratitude and spreading cheer behind us, we’re now faced with the month of “new year, new me.” With all this positive energy we’ve carried over from the holidays, most of us make personal goals like to eat healthier, exercise more, or to save more money. While all of these goals are awesome, why not spread these good vibes to your community as well?
We have all heard sayings like “giving makes you feel good” or “it’s better to give, than to receive.” Well, studies have shown that generosity is linked to happiness. Generosity can mean giving money or time. However, most people are limited in what money or time, if not both, they can give. It seems we all want to be more giving with our time and talents, but often we stress how to possibly fit one more commitment into our overwhelming schedules.
A lot of times when we think about giving back, huge commitments and daunting tasks come to mind; however, there are small and easy ways your family can give that add up to HUGE life changes for other people, including yourselves!
So, if you are looking for ways for your family to help others more, check out the list below for simple ways to give back all throughout the year:
- Get involved with your local food bank. There are many ways to give to your local food bank through monetary donations ($1 = 4 meals per Chattanooga Area Food Bank), volunteering your time (there are even family times, read about this mom’s experience here), or host a food drive! It’s an easy way to get your kids involved (i.e. donate part of their allowance, check out family volunteering time, or while you’re grocery shopping let them pick out canned goods to donate). Be sure to check out your community to see if there is a local food bank or visit Chattanooga Area Food Bank to learn more on how you can get involved.
- Donate to a Little Free Library. Have you heard of Little Free Libraries and where to find them in Chattanooga? If not, read more here. Basically, they are free library book stations for kids all around the city! The idea is to promote childhood literacy since not everyone can afford a library card or drive to a library location. Your child can donate books he has outgrown or ready to pass on.
- Visit a “shut-in” or a widow. As a parent craving alone time, it’s easy to forget about those that are always alone. You know, the ones who wish for days of wiping a snotty nose or can’t remember the last time someone gave them a hug. Visiting time can easily be a family activity. You really don’t need anything but yourselves to make this happen!
- Have a “clothes swap.” A clothes swap is where you and your friends get together to swap clothes (YAY to free new clothes and recycling!). This can be done with any type of clothing, really. Baby’s/kid’s clothing swaps are often popular with moms, but I’ve also been to a clothes swap where it was just women’s wear. To give you more of an idea, the clothes swap was hosted at a friend’s home and we all brought food and drinks. After we chatted, we went shopping (clothes were displayed on tables and couches). It was nice to get rid of clothing no longer wanted, while gaining a few new pieces! If any items are leftover, they are donated.
- Donate unused household items and clothing. Have you tried the KonMari cleaning yet? I sure have and it’s felt wonderful to get rid of unnecessary clutter that did not “spark joy.” Be sure to check out one of these local donation spots in Chattanooga.
- Shop local in your community. When you shop local (think shoe repair, restaurants, bakeries, etc. that make your community unique), you’re strengthening your local economy, which in return creates more jobs and opportunities for your neighborhood. Building up your community means you’re supporting neighbors and bringing positive growth to your town.
- Community projects. The phrase “community projects” can feel overwhelming, but really it can be anything you put your mind to! Some ideas include picking up trash on the side of the road or a park, helping an elderly person with lawn care, or visiting a local nursing home. Brainstorm ideas with your kids — you may be amazed at how big their hearts and ideas can be!
- “Be kind” kid gesture. Speaking of brainstorming, each month let your kids come up with a way to be kind to others in their community. This could be for their neighbors, peers in class, animal shelter, nursing home, local law enforcement, a local business, etc. Some ideas include writing letters, drawing pictures, baking cookies, spending time with others, or picking a flower from the yard to give to someone!
- Volunteering with kids. All parents want their children to be healthy and grow up to with compassion for others. Volunteering with your kids is also a great way to spark conversations about gratefulness and what other ways they can make a difference! Read about this mom’s experience as she uses volunteering as a tool to build her children up, so they are ready to face all seasons of life with humbleness and kindness.