A surefire way to realize and appreciate what we have is to give some of it back, whether it’s our time, treasure or material possessions. This rings true whether you’re a billionaire benefactor or living paycheck to paycheck.
Many people says spring is the best time to start fresh and set new goals, and one of mine this year is to take part in more community service. Any charity or nonprofit service organization will tell you, volunteer hours are every bit as valuable as a check for $25, if not more. Consider what a local food pantry can do with a few hours of your time. Pay someone $25 to sort items and staff the front desk or feed a family in need for a few days?
A good friend of mine works a full-time job, has three kids and still finds time every week to work at her church’s food pantry and clothing center. There are so many places within your community, some you probably never knew about, and all of which can use your help.
Cross Lines ( www.cross-lines.org), City Union Mission ( www.cityunionmission.org) and the Salvation Army ( www.salvationarmyusa.org) are some of the more notable organizations in town. They are always in need of people to help sort and stock food and clothing donations.
Closer to your home may be a nonprofit thrift store with similar needs. Like the groups mentioned above, many thrift stores use what little money they make to support other outreach programs that help underprivileged families and individuals.
If stocking clothes or food is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other local organizations that need your help. Everything I know about sheet-rocking, siding, measuring and anything else construction related I learned while working on a Habitat for Humanity ( http://www.habitat.org) jobsite. This is an amazing organization, one I highly recommend. There’s nothing like seeing walls go up on a home for someone in need.
It’s even more rewarding when you can share the experience with family, friends or co-workers. Which brings up a good point: Do what you can to get others involved. Shared service is a bonding experience like no other. If you’re employed, get your company involved in the United Way’s annual Days of Action www.unitedwaygkc.org/volunteer/days_of_action.html. And be sure to take advantage of volunteer outings coordinated through your employer. I, for one, am proud to work for a company that gives every full-time employee 12 paid hours to volunteer in the community!
Think about organizing a volunteer Saturday with some of your closest friends. If you have little ones, organize a babysitter to watch all the little kiddos while the adults and big kids help out What a great way to build synergy amongst a group of friends and teach the kids one of the most valuable lessons they will ever learn.
The dividends on donations of time are exponential, especially for local charities. I’m willing to bet there is one within $5 of gas money from where you live. So now that your clocks are changed and you’re ready for spring, make it a goal to get out in your community and start making a difference.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens