You may remember from previous posts on our blog that the IZEA staff has spent some time helping out in the community – locally and beyond. We’ve collected toys for Sadie Holmes, sent care packages to troops in Iraq, raised money and joined in last year’s Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, and most recently we donated gifts and money to the elderly program at Kingsley House in New Orleans.
Those were all great experiences, and an incredible way for our employees to come together for a good cause! Recently, though, we’ve decided we can – and will – be doing more. There are so many ways to help out any day of the year, and we’d like to share some info with any of you who may be wondering just how you can help, too! We’re kicking this off with several opportunities to make a difference from your own computer, your own home, or within your own community.
First, did you know you can help without any cost to you, without leaving your computer? All you need is one click of your mouse. Check these out to see directories of many sites where donations are made each time you click:
One Click at a Time, The NonProfits.com, Click 2 Donate. They offer a wide variety of charities – focusing on children’s causes, women’s care, environmental concerns, and fighting hunger and homelessness. Of course, you could go through each site every day, but that might soon become daunting and easy to skip because it’s so time consuming. Instead, pick a favorite few and check in on them daily, or rotate through those sites that are relevant to the topics important to you.
Next up – one of the more common ways folks are helping out from home is recycling. Cardboards, plastics, glass & aluminum – we use them every day. We also toss things in the garbage every day. So why not have a recycling container next to your garbage can? Easy enough! We’ve even recently added recycle bins to the IZEA office! But if you’re not recycling yet, how do you get started? What can you recycle? Do an online search for your town or county name and the word ‘recycle’ or call your local waste management or city hall – either should be able to help you.
What about those items you can’t recycle, are still perfectly good, but you just don’t want anymore? Donate, donate, donate! Again, you probably have a local stores run by Goodwill, Salvation Army, or even local hospitals. They accept donations year-round, and the profits from sales go back into their programs. Difficult in your busy day to make an extra stop? Some organizations will also pick up donations right at your doorstep. AmVets was just on our block this week, and usually sends flyers in the mail to let us know they’re coming. Many of us love to help out around the holidays, donating household items or new gifts. One way to make a difference, and help your money go further on donated items – shop sale or clearance items all year. Keep in touch with one of your favorite charities, and continue to drop off what you can when you can. After Christmas last year, I found children’s hats and gloves on sale for $1.00 each! Wow – a quick and easy way to share some warmth, especially during this long winter! And you know – donations of food are needed all year as well. Your area may have multiple food banks, and Second Harvest is a nationwide food bank. They accept food donations, as well as welcoming volunteers to help out in the kitchen for meal services. Last time I worked at a Second Harvest in the Orlando area, one of the other volunteers had her two children there also helping out. So don’t forget to include the kids for any age-appropriate volunteer work! I’ve talked to many parents who include their kids in selecting toys to donate, or who remind their children that a certain percentage of any cash gifts go to charity. The child gets to pick the charity, and it can’t be the ‘buy a new Wii for our family fund’. It’s a great use of their time, and gets them started with some great habits!
Finally, we all go shopping – some of us like it, some of us don’t, but we at least stop at the grocery store from time to time. You can make a great difference in your community on the way to the store AND while shopping! How many of you have experienced or shared a random act of kindness? This can be as simple as moving your neighbor’s garbage can back to the curb – hey, sometimes garbage collectors are in a hurry, and those cans end up all over!, paying a toll for the person behind you in traffic, holding the door for someone at the store, picking up something you saw someone drop (rather than rolling your eyes and stepping over the inconvenience , and so on – the list is endless! Being aware of the products you buy can also help. Have you ever noticed boxtops for education or labels for education? Simply clipping these off boxes and bags of cereal, pasta, meals, frozen goods, storage bags and even toilet paper and paper towels, can earn your local school cash and supplies for the kids. If your local school doesn’t participate, find out if they will, or find a school that does. And if there are none in your area – we’ll take those labels! My niece’s school has competitions to see which class can bring in the most.
So there you have it – one or two, or well – several ways you can make a difference in your community. This is just a start, and we encourage you to find something that fits your lifestyle and your own personal preferences in your own community. Many people have a reason for supporting certain organizations, or staying away from others. It certainly is and should be a personal choice, but we have a tool that may help you out, too. Charitynavigator.org offers information on individual organizations you may be interested in. Feel free to share with us any other ideas you have, or programs you’ve participated in!
And keep watching the blog – Ashley will have our next community focused post this week!