“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~ William James
50 Ways to Make a Difference without Spending a Penny
By Marie Wilke
So many people have been laid off from their jobs or have had significant cut backs as to the amount of hours worked (which is the case in my family – my husband is not getting a full 40 hour week and boy does that hurt.) The head says “you can’t afford to give and make a difference” while your heart screams “you can’t afford NOT to give and make a difference!”
So, what is a person that has a desire to give BIG (and I’m talking give “Oprah big”) supposed to do when the money isn’t there? Forget about the “BIG” portion of giving and simply do what you can with what you have.
I truly do love to buy things for the sole purpose of giving them away. When my children see things are obviously not for them, they will immediately ask “Who is that for?” because they know that I normally don’t keep things – I give them away. With my husbands hours being cut back, I’m still going to give or do something daily to make a difference. Here are some of the ways I’ll be Spreading Joy while the finances are extremely tight!
1. Pass on a book that you’ve enjoyed. Write a note in the front saying what you enjoyed and instruct the next “owner” to pass it on after they have read it.
2. Instead of “googling” when searching – use Good Search and these guys will make a donation to Spreading Joy. (Use the link above that will take you there)
3. Donate gently used dvd’s, vhs tapes and video games – I’m sure Spreading Joy can find those that will love to use them.
4. Be Positive today – with the depressing economy, bills falling behind – this can really be tough, but it will encourage those around you and in the process bring joy to yourself.
5. Donate expired coupons to the troops overseas.
6. Thank a Police Officer today (hopefully NOT while you are getting a ticket!)
7. Give time to your spouse – do something together, visit a park, bookstore etc.
8. Donate household items to Spreading Joy to pass along to others in need.
9. Hold a yard sale and donate half of the proceeds.
10. Taking the 30 day challenge? Tell me about it here.
11. Baby sit for a friend/neighbor for free.
12. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter or women’s shelter
13. Encourage our soldiers. Send a free letter here.
14. Mentor someone – have you started your own business? Are you an expert in a certain field? Share that talent!
15. Donate unused craft items to a daycare or elementary school.
16. Turn in those Box Tops for Education – found on Pillsbury items. Keep these, even if you don’t have kids. There is a school near you.
17. Smile at everyone you come in contact with today.
18. Offer to let someone ahead of you in line.
19. Volunteer in a Nursing home.
20. Donate blood.
21. Donate Plasma – and get paid for it.
22. Organize a book drive – get your neighborhood to donate gently used books. Pass out a flier asking for books – giving instructions to leave them in a bag on the porch letting them know you will pick them up the next week.
23. Turn in your Campbell’s Soup Labels
24. Have a family meal at the table – talk about current events in the family.
25. Give a handwritten note of encouragement.
26. Start a Gratitude Journal – leave it out for others to see as they visit you.
27. Donate gently used magazines to a nursing home
28. <-this has been missing for a year and a half, and NO one has said a thing to me about it. LOLOLOL just realized today 10.10.10 hahhaha. I LOVE it!, Leaving it and thank goodness for bonuses.
29. Call someone who is not feeling well and talk until you make them laugh
30. Volunteer at an animal shelter – play with the animals.
31. Visit with the elderly or someone who can no longer get out as much as they’d like.
32. Pick flowers from your garden and give away.
33. Volunteer for your local church.
34. Give a thank you card to someone who has made a difference in your life.
35. Run errands for a new Mom (or someone that is sick)
36. Pick up trash you see as you are walking on your route.
37. Volunteer to read to a class at your local Elementary school
38. Write a thank you note to your child’s teacher.
39. Seek out a store manager and let them know what an excellent employee your grocery bagger was. (or cashier).
40. Donate gently used clothing.
41. Volunteer at a hospital.
42. Donate your “free items” from the buy one get one free – to a local food pantry.
43. Leave a note hanging in or on your mailbox thanking your mail carrier for always being so dependable!
44. Speak to the elderly you pass – look them in the eye and smile. We tend to forget about the great individuals who paved the way for us.
45. Say Please and Thank you – show sincere appreciation.
46. Go to Church. There are so many churches. When people get discouraged, that is one of the first places they’ll go. You can encourage so many people this way!
47. Make extra chili and cornbread muffins – and take to a neighbor.
48. Bake homemade cookies with items you have in your pantry and share with neighborhood children.
49. Donate extra blankets to a homeless shelter.
50. Give a basket of home grown veggies.
51. (a bonus!) Host a game night with your family – eat dessert first! Turn off cell phones (ok – kids, you can leave yours on….) but spend time laughing together playing games!
There you have it – 50 ways to make a difference without spending a single penny.
Everyone can make a difference! The real question is – will you?