If you’re like most of us, you probably take time during Thanksgiving to reflect on all the things you’re grateful for. While this is important, we really should keep gratitude in mind all year long. Gratitude doesn’t just help us appreciate the blessings in our lives, it also affects the way we feel. According to Happify, “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.”
One way to practice gratitude is to spread kindness and help those who may be less fortunate. While humans are naturally kind and compassionate, studies show we can increase our capacity through practice and that spending time each day to cultivate an attitude of compassion promotes happiness and life satisfaction. So why not do your part to help others, you’ll make them feel good and reap all the benefits of kindness and gratitude. If you need some ideas, here are six creative ways to give back this year.
Run (or Walk) a Race
If you resolved to get fit this year, why not do so while giving back to a good cause? There are lots of fun running and walking events that you can do to raise money for charity. Run a 5K for Race for the Cure, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, sign up for the three-day Avon Breast Cancer Walk.
Volunteering is a great way to give back and support those in need, and it gives you the unique opportunity to see how your actions directly affect a person or organization. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen or visit a local hospital or senior center,
There are so many different ways to volunteer; find a cause you care about or an activity you enjoy. This is especially important if you’re trying to encourage family members or young kids to join in on the effort.
From canned food to toys and games, someone can always benefit from the items we take for granted. Take a look around your house, do you have clothing or other items that are just sitting around collecting dust? If you have clothes, books, games, or other items you don’t use, take the to a local donation center or donate them to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Not only will you declutter your space, you will provide important items to people who can actually use them.
Arts, Crafts & Projects
These ideas are especially great for families and children. Put your creative skills to good use and do an arts and crafts project for a good cause. You can Knit squares to make blankets for orphans in Africa, create artwork for hospitals and senior centers, or craft projects for made4aid, a non-profit organization that raises money for aid and relief work.
Also, check with local hospitals and assisted-living centers to see if they accept artwork and/or donations.
Support Your Troops
There are a number of opportunities to support troops and give thanks to service men and women. This is also a great way to teach kids to be thankful for the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms.
Besides monetary donations, you can get involved with Cell Phones for Soldiers, which helps military members stay connected with their families, or Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages and “thank you” cards to service members, veterans, first responders, new recruits and wounded heroes.
Shop for a Cause
Look for brands and organizations that donate proceeds when you make a purchase, for example, TOM’s donates a pair of shoes to a child in need whenever you buy a pair for yourself. Out of Print Clothing uses profits to help fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need. You can also try yoobi, which provides school supplies to classrooms in need.
Of course, these aren’t the only organizations that give back, search online for companies that donate to a cause you care about. You can also download the Tab for a Cause browser extension and raise funds for charity while you surf the web!
With so many ways to volunteer and get involved, you can definitely find an activity that you and your family enjoy. What are your favorite ways to give back? Let us know in the comments below!