I try to be kind to others — give my seat to the elderly, hold open the door for others, smile or say a kind word to someone who seems to be having a hard day. But I never feel like that’s enough. I don’t feel like I’m truly being active in helping or giving back to others. Perhaps, I am and I’m being hard on myself. But it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. And whether it is or isn’t, I want to do more. And helping others a little bit more in my life will be beneficial to all parties — right?
I just didn’t know how to do it. I was tired of being haphazard when it came to volunteering or doing out-of-the-norm acts of kindness. Last year, my donations and volunteer efforts fit on one hand. I donated some money to a few charities (not much). I was involved in one battle hunger/feed the homeless event. I also had friends donate their winter clothes when they came to my house-warming party and then I took them to a local woman’s shelter. When I had cash, I would give it to those in need if they asked, but that wasn’t often, as I never have cash on me.
That still didn’t feel like enough.
No, this year, I had to write out my goals and hold myself accountable, in ways that I hadn’t before. I could do more, I had time to do more, so why not just do it?
Right before the new year, I saw a friend “Like” an event in January for TangoTab, an app and community that seeks to eliminate hunger. I had gone to an event last year and enjoyed myself. It was a simple event — everyone brought sandwich making supplies and vegetable snacks, and we put together paper lunch bags. The lunch bags were then given to local food banks and other local programs in an effort to end hunger in our community. I even wrote a blog post about it in the hopes that others would download the app. I considered the upcoming event for a little bit, checked my calendar, and then everything clicked.
I would go to the TangoTab event in January, but I wouldn’t stop there. I was going to commit myself to do 12 acts of kindness or volunteer opportunities in the year of 2017. I set to creating my list and this is effectively what I came up with in the end:
- January — TangoTab (feed the homeless)
- February — Send kind cards to elderly and sick children
- March — Honor Women’s History Month by helping a women’s organization or charity
- April — Join a clean-up project or conservation effort in honor of Earth Day
- May — Volunteer at the Special Olympics Summer Games
- June — Buy someone’s food behind me in the fast food line or at a restaurant
- July — Volunteer with Hospice
- August — Donate supplies to a local student for Back-to-School
- September — Volunteer with an immigration organization
- October — Help Planned Parenthood
- November — Create goodie bags for homeless people
- December — Volunteer at a LGBT shelter
Though I have these written out and planned for 2017, they could change. For instance, for Earth Day, if I can’t find a local event, maybe I will promise to go pick trash in nature-type areas in my city and surrounding areas. If my finances are strapped in November and I can’t create a lot of goodie bags for the homeless, maybe I will just buy a pack of water and packaged snacks and keep them in my car to hand out to the homeless when need be. Other ideas are very general right now because I want a chance to research. For instance, “Help Planned Parenthood” could involve a number of aspects and I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do that particular one. The thing is — I can get as creative as I want with these, and as some of you know, I can get really creative.
I’m pretty excited about this plan. It provides me with some direction for my philanthropic acts in 2017, plus it’s making me think about being kinder to others and giving me great ideas for how to give back in other areas of my life too. More importantly, I plan to share this with my friends and see if they want to get involved too! Why not? The more, the merrier as more can do more merrier acts of kindness and the world could use a lot more of that this year.
So I challenge you all to create a “giving back” plan for 2017. Maybe you could volunteer every other month? Perhaps, donate $5 of every paycheck to a different charity throughout the year of 2017. Or plan for a volunteer trip overseas, build homes with Habitat for Humanity, foster children (or pets), look for jobs at a non-profit, or provide your services for free to those in need. The possibilities for being kinder and more giving are endless, so let’s do it, ladies. Let’s change this world.
Photo by Madi Robson