I love blogging about fashion, but it's definitely not my life's purpose. A career path, certainly. But things with deeper meaning like giving to and helping others, are things I think about more often, and are far more exciting than clothes! That's why I love the idea of #GivingTuesday, the day that falls after Cyber Monday and Black Friday. (I only wish that it came before Thanksgiving - giving first, THEN the shopping!) Today is a time to reflect, and strategize how we can give back:
1. TIME - Let's start with the one thing that absolutely anyone can contribute no matter your age or station in life: your time. Many nonprofits and charities could not function without a large amount of manpower. Take the Feeding Children Everywhere initiative we recently participated in - they sent 4.4 millions meals to Puerto Rico, which required the help of 54,000 volunteers! Does it feel like your schedule is too packed and there's no way you can help? Please hear me when I say that I understand that feeling. During our busiest season we work 120+ hours a week, and barely have time for self-care or socializing let alone volunteering. But Joshua and I recently spent a Saturday afternoon cooking for and serving a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless during an absolutely INSANE week, and it was magical. Volunteering is funny like that - when you are stressed to the MAX and have zero time is often the best time to do it!
2. SKILL - There's using your two hands and feet to volunteer (TIME) and then there's using your qualifications or (SKILL) to help others! Whatever your abilities may be, there are tons of exciting ways you can make a difference. A great resource for getting started is Taproot, a website that allows you to enter your skills, browse available projects, and apply to help pro bono. For me and Joshua, this is definitely one of our favorite ways to give back. It means sitting on the board of a nonprofit, donating consulting and/or social media services, or doing pro bono blog posts or photography sessions. We don't always share publicly, but a couple examples you've seen here on the blog include going to Haiti to establish best practices for a nonprofit/fair trade brand, and utilizing one of the unique perks of my job (free clothes!) by donating or doing closet sales for a cause.
3. MONEY - There's a saying, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," and I couldn't agree more. I feel proud knowing that anyone examining our checkbook would see how passionately we give (I only ever post about my clothing budget here, but we donate 4-8 times that amount to charity each month), and furthermore I'm WAY more excited to donate money, than I ever am about buying myself something. Giving time is important, but giving money is equally so. You can find tons of great fundraising events happening near you via the official #GivingTuesday website, or check out this Today Parents article: 7 ways to help children suffering in Syria's civil war. Or, in leu of Christmas gifts this year, why not consider helping a child in need, in a family or friend's honor? One site I recommend is COTN (Children of the Nations) - they provide you with a printable gift receipt to put under the tree.
4. LOVE - Time, skills, and money all take a bit of thoughtful planning, but as we go about our day we have the opportunity to give every moment of every day. We can give love! We can hold the door open for someone, cover the bill for the family in the grocery line in front of us, run errands for a new mom, or bake cookies for our neighbors. Two holidays ago I posted 20 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season - and I love re-reading it for tons of ways we can be giving back every day - not just during the holidays!
Which way do you enjoy giving back the most?
What's been your most rewarding volunteer experience?