With kids going back to school soon, you might finally breathe a sigh of relief that the summer corralling is done and tend to some personal things. Why not spread that joyous feeling and pay it forward by giving back to the community? Here are a few simple things you can do to give back without giving up that new free time.
Thank the Teachers
If there’s one thing you’ve learned after wrangling a few kids all summer, it’s how wonderful teachers are for handling an entire classroom all school year. You don’t have to go overboard to show your children’s teachers how much you appreciate them. A simple homemade gift or healthy treat is always a lasting gesture. One of my favorite teacher appreciation ideas is offering a hand in the classroom. Many teachers spend their own time and money on supplies, classrooms projects, and even field trips. Find out what’s needed, and donate it. Or, offer up an hour or two to help clean up or prep a new project.
Giving back to the community on a larger scale doesn’t require a tremendous time commitment, either. Organizing a school drive can be as simple as sending out an e-mail to students’ families and setting up a collection bin for their donations. Anything from canned food, to clothes, to books can be collected for delivering to those in need. You can also plan a recycling drive to help collect and recycle items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.
There’s nothing like the comfort of a home-cooked meal when experiencing a stressful time. Whenever a family welcomes a new baby or encounters a difficult health issue at my daughter’s preschool, we all participate in a meal train. This lets everyone individually pick a day to prepare and deliver a home-cooked dinner to the family who needs it the most. You don’t have to slave away in the kitchen after work to help feed another family; rather, cook a double batch of whatever you are already making. Large, hearty dishes like stews and casseroles are perfect, as they can often stretch into more than one meal.
Make Care Kits
It’s easy to take the bare necessities for granted, but for those who have none of them, the chance to simply brush their teeth can mean the world. Help the homeless in your community by putting together miniature care kits packed with these basics, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, or a pair of clean socks. Donate your kit to a local shelter or leave it in an area you know is frequented by the underprivileged.
Spend some time at your local senior center. This is great way to involve your whole family in giving back to the community. You don’t have to plan an elaborate activity—simply visiting and talking can make a difference in seniors’ lives. A great way to bond is over books. Have your kids bring along a few of their favorites to read aloud with residents of the facility. In addition to spending quality time together, your kids will also get a chance to practice their reading skills.
Even with the big kids back in school, you may still have your hands full with work—or a new baby at home, like me. Luckily, you can still find effective things to do from your couch, such as volunteering online. With sites like Volunteer Match, you can find virtual volunteering opportunities that can be done from the Internet with your particular skillset.
Remember, you don’t have to take on something overwhelming to give back to the people in your neighborhood. Small gestures can go a long way in making a difference in others’ lives.
What are some ways you’ll be giving back to your community this season? Share them in the comments!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.