A few weeks ago, I closed my eyes and hit “publish” on a post that I was afraid to show the world. Seeing my words in black and white made me feel weak and vulnerable, not to mention selfish and inconsiderate. But I’m glad that I went through with it because I received several supportive comments, not to mention a personal email from Laura encouraging me get involved in initiating change. Because I figure that many of you are like me. Unsure of where to start. Believing you don’t have the power to make a difference. So, please welcome my first guest poster, Laura from I’m Not a Trophy Wife!
Jen recently posted about her feeling overwhelmed at times by her inability to alleviate suffering around the world. I emailed Jen with a few suggestions on simple volunteer ideas that can make an immediate impact and I offered to write a guest post.
My personality is the type that gets wrapped into every charity I read about in the paper, online or view on television. I am crying hysterically when I see the animal shelter commercials with Sarah McLachlan’s song “In the Arms of the Angels” playing against still photos of dogs and cats. And then a few hours later I am knee deep in spelling words, homework assignments, overdue library book notices, work commitments, and dinner anyone? I get so overwhelmed by the multitude of needs, I end up doing absolutely nothing. This is what connected me to Jen’s post.
What I have found is if I partner with a friend or neighbors I am more likely to volunteer. Having a partner, keeps me accountable and on task. Last Fall my friend and I coordinated a food drive to benefit our local food bank. We collected over 600 pounds of non-perishable food in 3 days. We simply left a medium size brown bag on every porch in our neighborhood (donated by Whole Foods). We attached a note detailing what we were doing, what group would benefit and we asked interested homeowners to fill the bag with a few non-perishable items and to leave it on their porch for us to pick up in 3 days. Again, over 600 pounds for less than 6 hours of work. Not bad!
This next idea was a huge hit! My daughter and I host an annual Mother-Daughter ornament exchange. We partner with a local group that collects pajamas for kids living in shelters. We asked each mother/daughter to bring one set of pajamas in any size from infant to size 14. All of the girls brought multiple sets of pajamas. We were overwhelmed by my daughter’s friends and moms who were thrilled to have specific instructions on what to bring and a quick note detailing who would benefit (all of this was outlined on the invitation).
Another quick idea is instead of hostess gifts for an annual holiday party, ask guests to bring toothpaste and tooth brushes to benefit a local women’s shelter.
A final idea was for our daughter’s 13th birthday party. On her invitation, we asked that in lieu of gifts please bring a cash donation or a check made out to a local shelter. We added that we would match the total donation. It was a huge success and the feedback from the parents was great. And, my daughter still received gifts. Smiles all around!
Any of these suggestions can be adjusted to your interests. Again, I have found partnering with friends, colleagues, church members, or neighbors makes it more fun when searching for volunteer opportunities. Most people want to help they just need a little direction. Always share the non-profit websites for your group to visit. It gets your group engaged in the charity! All of these ideas serve as reminders that it is better to give than to receive.
Thank you, Laura, for reminding me that helping others doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. While my husband won’t allow me to adopt all the neglected dogs I see on tv, there are many things I can do to improve the lives of others.
This is a topic that I hope to be revisiting again in the future, so if you have an ideas you would like to share on Dear Mommy Brain, you can email me at dearmommybrain (at) gmail (dot) com. Or there may possibly even be a link up posted in the coming weeks…