If you're like me, you often feel strongly about a local or national social or political issue. Maybe there's a protest march or rally that you'd love to attend, but you just can't. Maybe it's 150 miles away, or the march route isn't wheelchair-accessible, or you can't leave your aging mother alone for that long.
Does that mean you can't help out your cause?
Of course you can still help! Here are some ways that you can add your voice to a protest when you can't make it to the event.
1. Contact officials
A well-written letter or email, or even a phone call to an elected or appointed official can be a reminder that he or she works for YOU and should pay attention to your opinions and needs. A personalized letter will stand out more than a form letter, but even that is better than staying silent.
Don't know whom to contact? Go to congress.gov/members to find the information for senators and congressional representatives. The League of Women Voters can provide contact info for everyone from the President to your local county administrator.
2. Start or sign petitions
While letters and phone calls pack the most punch, hundreds or even thousands of signatures on a petition can be effective too. If you can't find one that promotes your cause, you can even start one yourself. Use that list of contact information to know where to send it.
3. Boost the signal
You probably have hundreds of contacts if you think about it: your email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook or Twitter or other social media contacts. Make sure you include the information about the time, location, and purpose of the upcoming protest rally or march. You can even use an old-fashioned "phone tree" model by asking each person you reach to contact three or more friends and pass the info along.
4. Donate time or money
Protest marches and rallies have sponsoring organizations, and all of them need money and volunteer help. Think of all the good you can do from home. Even a small donation of $5, when combined with others, can make a big difference. Organizations such as churches, synagogues, or civic groups you belong to may be willing to help out the cause with donations or representatives at the protest.
And don't forget the many tasks that need to be done to support protest efforts. Can you paint signs? Stuff envelopes? Design flyers to distribute at the rally? Just ask the organizers and there will be plenty of suggestions for ways to help – and to use your talents and abilities to aid the cause.
5. Thank everyone who helps
If your local newspaper or radio station covers the protest, call and say you appreciated it. If your representative votes in favor of your cause, take the time to write a letter of thanks. Positive reinforcement will make support more likely the next time your cause needs help.
Protest rallies and marches may be the most visible way to make social and political opinions known, but they aren't the only ways to make your voice heard. Remember that, whatever your circumstances, you too can make a difference!
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