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5 Community-improvement programs to join

Community improvement programs vary in their organizational structures — from large, corporate-sponsored programs to local grassroots efforts. Every program, however, is ultimately committed to improving the quality of life and enhancing the vitality of the cities and towns in which we live. Participation doesn’t take huge amounts of time or money; you just need to know what’s out there to choose what works best for you.

Volunteer community project

1Nike Reuse-A-Shoe

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe is a unique recycling program that turns worn-out athletic shoes of all brands into Nike Grind, a material used in sports and playground surfaces such as outdoor basketball and tennis courts, running tracks and football fields. Since 1990, Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe has collected more than 25 million pairs of athletic shoes globally. You can drop off your shoes at any of more than 200 locations in eight countries around the world, including all U.S. Nike stores.

2Green cansThe Sprite Spark Parks Project

The Sprite Spark Parks Project is promoting active lifestyles through an ongoing effort to refresh parks, playgrounds, schoolyards and other public spaces across the nation. Joining in is easy: Just look for cans of Sprite or Sprite Zero with green tabs. For each green tab mailed in and received by June 20, 2011, Sprite will donate 10 cents — up to $500,000 — to Habitat for Humanity to refurbish homes and active spaces.

3Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement is a partnership among the business community, educators and volunteers aimed at inspiring young people to dream big and reach their potential. JA’s programs teach the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to young people and future community members through the experience of its volunteers and promoters. You can get involved with Junior Achievement through volunteering or by making a donation.

4Apple Recycling Program

Apple’s recycling program ensures the proper disposal of electronic equipment at the end of its useful life — minimizing its impact on community landfills. As part of the program, you can turn your working or nonworking Mac or PC desktop or notebook computer into an Apple gift card. Apple contracts with Power ON to determine the fair market value of your computer online, and then sends you a gift card to be used for purchases at Apple’s online and retail stores.

5Great American CleanupKeep America Beautiful’s Great American CleanUp

Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup takes place annually from March 1 through May 31 and involves an estimated 3 million volunteers and attendees. Activities include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and conducting educational programs and litter-free events. Check out the KAB website for more information and learn how to find or start cleanup efforts in your community.

From donations to volunteering, these are five of many easily accessible community improvement projects in which your family can participate.

Need more ideas?

Habitat for Humanity sells reusable goods at ReStores.

ReStores provide an environmentally and socially responsible way to keep good, reusable materials out of the waste stream while providing funding for Habitat’s community improvement work. ReStores accept donated goods and sells them to the general public at a fraction of their original retail prices.

Other ways to get involved in your community

Give back to your community: Donate your time
Monday Mom Challenge: Give yourself a community involvement review
Community & international involvement on SheKnows Cares

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