How to give back in 2012

Start the New Year out right! Forget exercise resolutions and calorie counting. Instead, vow to do some good in the community. Make 2012 about others and not just yourself. Count blessings and good fortune in terms of health, family and loved ones instead of monetary increments. Share with those who are not as lucky as you are.

volunteer and donate

Empty your closets of unwanted goods

Ask any woman if she needs all the pairs of shoes in her closet, and the answer will most likely be “yes.” If you really think about it, though, you can donate other items in your home besides clothes and shoes. With so many charities in need, you will find willing recipients for your gently used items.

Seek out charities that are in specific need of your unwanted items. Donate old business suits to a charity that helps men and women looking for new jobs. Give unused sporting equipment to a local YMCA or after-school program. Hospitals can use those books that the kids no longer read. Local urban gardens can benefit from your unused lawnmower or gardening tools. There’s someone out there for every unwanted item; don’t let anything go to waste in the dumpster.

A little goes a long way

If you brew your own coffee and eat a piece of fruit for breakfast instead of stopping at a coffee shop just one day a week, you could easily save $10 a month. That $120 a year can go a very long way for a local or national charity — for example, helping a food shelter purchase dozens of meals for needy families.

Brown-bag it! Bring your own lunch one day a week and eat it outside; chances are your own lunch is healthier than most meals you’d purchase at a restaurant or take-out, and getting out for a bit is a great break from the daily grind. Try making a little extra of whatever you’re serving for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch. This cost- and time-efficient, and you can donate some of your newfound savings to a charity.

Take time for your community

Charities always need monetary donations, but we often overlook the human element. Read to children, help a family paint their home, or mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor. Inquire about volunteer opportunities with a local charity, or find a person in need whom you’d like to help on your own. Your time is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow on an individual or charity. Human relationships are the strongest bond.

Take just five hours a year. You’ll likely find it so rewarding that you’ll want to give even more of your time. This is also an incredible opportunity to get children involved in the community. It can be hard for kids to grasp the idea of charity and families without money, but a hands-on experience can make a profound impact.

Sign your family up to help feed the homeless. Look for a hospital that could benefit from a reading hour or a play hour. Do you have urban gardens in your neighborhood? Does a local Salvation Army or Red Cross shelter need help sorting or organizing items? Find a task or niche that your family enjoys to make the experience that much more meaningful.

Start the New Year with a personal goal of giving back. Make charity a part of your new and improved lifestyle.

More ideas for the new year

How to start your own business
5 Resolutions for a happier you
Realistic goals for New Year’s resolutions


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