So many of us would like to volunteer, but feel we lack a valuable resource - time! But giving back doesn't have to mean making huge sacrifices. Check out these simple ways that HuffPost readers were able to give back.
This is just a small thing, but if everyone did it, it could make a big difference. The economy has hurt local and national nonprofits and the people out there on the line doing the work. My particular soft spot is animal rescue. This year, for my 60th birthday, I planned a great party. In the invitations I included an addressed, stamped envelope to a local animal rescue group and asked that all my guests send them a donation in lieu of gifts. It made me feel good. My friends loved the idea. And the rescue group was very grateful.
Jayne Martin, Santa Ynez, CA
I love to give and in my neighborhood there are those who have lost jobs and are having some rough times. So I go to the a local bakery and buy bread and snacks for a few of my neighbors. They all have three or more children and this has helped them out tremendously - you need to see the relief that comes over them when they get five loaves of bread and snacks for their children. They all have told me that they freeze the bread and can fix sandwiches all summer so every two weeks I buy 20 loaves of bread and about ten boxes of twinkies and load up. This has kept me so upbeat and my mind off of my own problems. I don't care what anyone says it makes one feel good when you can meet a need of someone who's suffering.
Flavor, St. Louis
OK, it's really small, but we take our 9 lb Bichon dog, Daisy, to the local Nursing Home every other week. They love her! Many residents ask to have her on their bed where they can pet her. Some cry for the dogs and cats they used to have. Some can't even speak anymore, but you can tell how they feel cheered up. Also, Daisy loves people, so she enjoys it too.
Bernadette, Elizabeth City, NC
I've got a full-time job and also have two businesses from home, but I still wanted to give back to the community somehow. I had a rabbit as a pet, and now I am the volunteer webmaster for the Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation. Bunnies are routinely dumped in parks and streets, especially after Easter, and they wind up dead or as prey. It breaks my heart that these sweet, loving animals are essentially thrown into the trash, and I am so happy when I hear, "Take the bunny off the website - she was adopted this weekend!"
Monica, El Segundo, CA
Our community has become the whole world, which is especially true for countries where our troops are serving. The interests of that country are our interests also. That's why I knit and pack for afghansforAfghans.org. This people-to-people project sends newly hand-knit and crocheted wool blankets, sweaters, hats, socks and mittens to the people of Afghanistan. These heartfelt gifts are collected from knitters all over the United States and Canada and sent to schools, hospitals, health clinics, and orphanages as a practical gesture of friendship and respect for Afghan children, women, and men. We have sent more than 90,000 hand-knit items since the war started after 9/11.
A special recent project was the gift of 91 hand-made wool shawls provided to the 91 women members of the Wolesi Jirga (the Afghan Parliament), presented in the Parliament house in Kabul, to show our support for these courageous, professional women leaders working hard to rebuild their country. We also sent letters of encouragement from our Bay Area women legislators, including Speaker Pelosi. This project enables me to use my life-long love of knitting to reach out to people on the other side of the world. It is special to know that my hand made work is enjoyed there. Our packing days, when we sort the sent items by size and type of garment for the cartons, are opportunities for camaraderie at a difficult time in our world.
Chris Motley, San Francisco, CA
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