Real talk: The world can be an overwhelming place sometimes. If you pay attention to the news you can start to feel like there’s a whole lot of bad out there; so much so that doing good sounds kind of pointless. Allow us to remind you: It’s not. In fact, getting involved in your community can actually help counteract negative feelings — and make you a healthier person (really).
There are so many ways to give back that are easy and not time-consuming. And while they may seem small, these little acts can have a major impact not only on you but on the world around you. By getting involved in your community, you can meet new friends, learn new skills, boost your mood, self-esteem, and overall well-being (studies actually show that generosity is good for your health). Plus, you’re making a difference. What’s better than that?
If you’re ready to get involved in something but you’re not sure exactly what that something should be, we’re here to help. Ahead, check out five small ways to help out in your community. We bet you’re feeling better already.
1. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Local shelters are always looking for help from volunteers. You can sign up to walk dogs, help clean kennels, or even volunteer to photograph pets to help them get adopted (a great photo posted online can make all the difference in finding a forever home). Look up your nearby municipal shelters or rescue groups and reach out or check out resources at Petfinder.
2. Mentor kids. Did you know 1 in 3 young people will grow up without having a mentor? Just knowing that someone cares and is there to deal with everyday challenges can make an enormous difference. You don’t need to be a teacher or professionally trained. Having a positive role model can literally change the course of an at-risk child’s life forever. Check out opportunities near you at Mentor.org.
3. Register people to vote. You’re lucky enough to have a voice so go ahead and use it — and help others do the same. Electing our government officials is one of the most crucial freedoms we enjoy as Americans. So don’t sleep on your right to vote or anyone else’s. You can help register voters, as well as donate any skills like graphic design or writing/editing at RocktheVote.org.
4. Donate food. Many Americans suffer from food insecurity and turn to their local food banks for help. If you are pressed for free time, reach out to your local food pantry and ask what they need, then stop by the grocery store and help them stock up. You can locate your nearest bank at FeedingAmerica.org.
5. Adopt an elderly neighbor. Befriend an older person who lives alone or visit an assisted living facility. Just stopping by to say hi and chat or help with little errands can make a huge difference — to both of you. You’ll help your new friend fight isolation and loneliness and you’ll learn from their wisdom and lifetime of experiences. Check out resources at CreatetheGood.org.
How are you getting involved in your community? Tell us in the comments!
Header image via @annamaretski