Three Ways to Give Back to Your Community (Without Breaking the Bank)

Clothes donations

What’s the real value of charitable donations? If you’re talking about clothing and textiles in the United States, nearly 2 million tons of it were donated to charity organizations just last year. Couple that with food and monetary donations and you’re looking at a total of just over $316 billion given by Americans across the nation — an impressive number. Pat yourselves on the back, everybody!

But as we all know, helping out families in need isn’t as easy as dropping two quarters into a red Salvation Army bucket around Christmastime. In fact, it’s a lot harder than attending a charity fundraiser dinner because you get a free chicken parm meal out of it. And it’s a heck of a lot harder than simply clicking “like” on a nonprofit’s Facebook page just because they’re trying to get a few more followers.

Helping everyone, and helping military families especially, requires dedication. Luckily, it doesn’t have to require anything complicated. After all, the simple gestures are sometimes the best. For example…

Find local clothing donation centers.

Spend a Sunday rounding up the ripped jeans and unworn sport coats at the bottom of your closet and pile them all in a big bag. See which charities for wounded soldiers are around in your area, then drop off the clothing to a reseller or a recycling center. Often, charities will work together with one particular vision in mind, and when they sell old clothing and textiles (or break them down to make cloth wipes), the proceeds can benefit those who served in the Armed Forces.

Spend time volunteering where you can.

Stop into a VA hospital and chat with some soldiers. Drive to a nursing home and play checkers with an 85-year-old guy named Gus. Find the nearest soup kitchen and recruit your two best friends to help out with you for the day. “Charity” has a bit of a mixed message today because people tend to assume you have to give money to help out. But the real definition of the word means “the voluntary giving of help.” What better thing to donate than your time?

Start saying yes more often.

Whether you’re helping out charities for wounded soldiers or feeding the local homeless, you’re making a difference, even though it’s not a monetary one. And like we said, it’s important to understand that giving money isn’t the only way to help. Of course, it certainly is one of the most direct ways. Not everyone has thousands to write off to tax-deductible charity organizations, but we could easily drop our change into the mason jar at the local coffee shop or say yes when the grocery clerk asks us for a $1 contribution. It’s all about saying yes whenever you can.

Remember that not every act of kindness has to be directed toward a specific end goal, like assisting charities for wounded soldiers. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple smile to help change someone’s circumstances — even if it is for only a moment.

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