The world grows more increasingly absurd everyday, and the disparity of the distribution of wealth, too, becomes increasingly apparent, both nationally and internationally. As many Americans feel the pennies pinch tighter and tighter in their wallets, their desire to help doesn't dissipate. But the excuses come: Oh, I just can't swing it now; I'll do it next year; I want to but I can't; If I help X, then I may not be able to come out even. Well, as many of us learned from the apogee of morality, Avenue Q, "When you help others, you're really helping yourself." Here are some cheap and free ways that you can lend a hand:
This may be the easiest charitable thing you will ever do. All you need is a computer with internet. Go to www.thehungersite.com and you can click to sponsor their eight various charities. How does it work? They have sponsors for each charity that give a certain amount every time the "Click Here to Give" button. You can choose which charities you click for or you can click for all of them. If you're looking to drop a couple bucks for this foundation, they also sell charity-related merchandise online.
If you have a little extra time on your hands and like to write, becoming pen-pals with an inmate is a really great thing to do. You get to learn about a person, learn their stories, and provide them with a sense of comfort and entertainment, and all it costs you is a stamp. Check out www.WriteAPrisoner.com where you can find a list of inmates all over the country who would like to have a penpal.
It's not always easy to make time to volunteer, but often organizations are so desperate for help that they're willing to do their best to work with you and your schedule. The couple of hours a week that you spend cleaning up animal cages in a shelter means that the trained staff can focus on adoptions, intakes, and rescues. I think most of us have a place in mind where we'd like to dedicate our time, but if you don't, go to www.volunteermatch.org. There, you can search by zip codes, key words, and even for virtual opportunities (like translating child and sponsor letters) that are available.
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to participate in charities like "Locks of Love." But if you have an extra ten inches of hair to spare and you're willing or looking to snip it, consider donating those locks to people who have lost their hair to cancer. If you don't donate, it'll end up in a garbage can. Learn more at www.locksoflove.org.
Once in a while you can find really great coupons in the Sunday paper or online. These coupons can get you items for insanely cheap or free, but aren't always something you want or need. Consider using those coupons, picking up the discounted or free items and giving them to a charity that needs them.
This is fun to do for yourself and others. You know the expression "One man's trash is another man's treasure?" Well, it's true. It's unbelievable some of the stuff that people throw out! Things that are perfectly fine, but that are no longer wanted and apparently weren't worthy of being brought to a charity or to a thrift store. Undoubtedly you'll find some things for yourself, but instead of tossing aside the things you don't want, pick them up and take them to a thrift store or to a charity that can use them. A particularly fruitful time for Hippie Christmas is at the end of collegiate academic years. Dumpsters around dorms are literally teeming with clothes, household items, electronics, and much, much more.
Post your unwanted goods and find unwanted goods ate www.freecycle.org. There's one for virtually every state and are often separated into smaller, more manageable areas. This is a great alternative to bringing your things to a thrift store and to throwing them out.
Everyone's got a talent, use yours for good. Sew a quilt for hospital-bound children, volunteer to cook at a homeless shelter, go caroling in nursing homes, dedicate a couple of afternoons a week to helping with a youth development program, tutor underachieving students, volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters...the choices are endless.
Next time your cat or dog needs a new toy, bed, or treats, consider buying them from your local animal shelter rather than the grocery store. It not only adds profits to a local economy, it also goes to straight to a good cause.