With everything going on in the world, it's important to try and help whenever and wherever possible. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about where to start, but we're here to help you out. Organizations like United Way, the American Red Cross and The Corporation for National and Community Service provide volunteer and donation opportunities on a national scale, and with a variety of different causes to support.
It's also important to think about what we can do on a daily basis. Small actions, like being empathetic towards individual rights or educating yourself on current global situations, can help make this world a better place for yourself and others.
We've rounded up a few suggestions on how you can do your part to support our planet and the people who live in it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
If you have a day off of work, take advantage by donating your time and effort in service of an organization or center in need.
Go On A "Volunteer Vacation"
By taking the time to travel, you can expose yourself to different people and cultures in a way that social media can't. Normal vacations are about immersing yourself in whatever you find pleasurable somewhere away from home. Volunteer vacations are about traveling to a new place, but taking the time and effort to support the community there. Companies like International Volunteer HQ provide tourists with the ability to travel to more than 50 destinations, offering opportunities to assist native communities in teaching, construction, elderly care, conservation and more. It's a great way to give back to your favorite yearly destination and do something better for the world. Volunteer vacations are also perfect for families who want to teach their little ones about sustainability. International Volunteer HQ has programs for singles, couples, families, school groups and retirees. Not prepared to travel somewhere far away? Make it a day trip to a neighboring town—even picking up trash at a park or beach will spread the good to people outside of your regular network.
Take Action Against Forest Fires
If you think forest fires happening more frequently are a coincidence, you're wrong. With warmer temperatures and decreasing water supplies, more and more fires are igniting all over the world. In 2019, 259,823 acres of land were burned in California. Since the start of 2020 alone, the New South Wales in Australia wildfires have covered more than 2,300 square miles, destroyed 3,000 homes and killed over a billion animals. Educating ourselves on how to avoid forest fires and how to handle them if a situation arises is critical. Humans are a major cause of forest fires, so it's up to us to learn how to properly handle these situations. Simple instructions can be found on sites like Smokey Bear and FEMA. GlobalGiving and World Animal Protections are also great organizations for donations, with funds going back to communities and environments affected by forest fires.
Support Your Local Library
According to the ALA, there are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S.—a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of these public spaces provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers, and the majority provide offerings like technology training, online health resources, and programs that assist individuals in applying for jobs. Libraries not only benefit our children, but also our communities and local economies as a whole. Volunteering at your local library can entail adopting a shelf, assisting with programming, helping patrons with computers and more. Sites like ALA and USA.gov can provide additional information about local libraries and how to help them. You can donate money or your time.
Create A Learning Opportunity For Your Children
If our children are our future, then it's important they develop as well-rounded as possible. A part of that is sharing information on different cultures and issues that may or may not enter their life. A prime example can be LGBTQ issues. If we deny our children exposure to rights and issues our LGBTQ communities face, then we allow the unknown to potentially turn into hate. Communicating issues and rights in languages they understand can allow your child to not fear the differences in our neighbors, but rather accept them. Spend some time with your kids during your time off and learn about these issues together by reading a book or watching a documentary.
Very often, the idea of volunteering seems like a good one, but you don't know where to start. Sites like VolunteerMatch are great for determining which organizations you would like to volunteer for and what type of jobs to do. According to VolunteerMatch, 4.9 million volunteers are needed and 127,726 nonprofits rely on the site. Volunteering can range from helping out at a senior center to acting as a chaperone for a center field trip. Everything is based on location, so each volunteer opportunity starts with your own community.
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