The idea of giving back when struggling to get on your feet can feel like trying to pull a loaf of bread out of an empty basket. It doesn’t always feel possible, and it can be tough when you feel like keeping what you have would make things just a little bit safer or easier. That impulse isn’t bad — it’s wise and advisable to make sure your needs are met. But sometimes generosity is more important than keeping a little extra for tomorrow, and giving up some niceties to make sure other people’s needs are met is a mark of compassion. Frankly, our world could use a lot more of that.
I’m not here to tell you what or how you ought to give. But giving is important. I make sure that a portion of my income gets donated every week, often to my church, but sometimes to charities or specific causes.
That said, money is by no means the only way to give back. Especially if you’re living and saving off of limited funds, sometimes there isn’t much extra to give. But time, effort, and skill are just as valuable — and sometimes even more so.
I try to make sure I spend time volunteering consistently. As a note, one-off volunteering gigs are cool and can make a difference, but consider making a steadier investment whenever possible with an organization or ongoing project. For another example, I enjoy crocheting because it helps me destress and eases my habit of fidgeting, so last week I signed up to crochet hats and scarves that will be given out to people who are homeless as winter approaches.
One important adulting tip: Most donations are tax deductible, so be sure to get proof of the donation (usually just a receipt) and file it away for when tax season comes around.
More urgently, unbelievable numbers of people are currently in crisis from natural disasters. On my mind most prominently are the millions of people who have been left without power or sufficient aid in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. A large part of my family is from Puerto Rico, and the loss the island has seen is devastating. Thankfully relief organizations and private citizens are responding, but much more help is needed. Of course, Puerto Rico isn’t the only place in need. Mexico is still recovering from multiple earthquakes; Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
EDIT: Hours after this post went up, people attending a music festival in Las Vegas became victims of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history; at least 58 are dead and at least 515 are injured. I’ve added ways to help to the list below.
Again, what or how you give back is no business of mine. But even for those of us that are still trying to figure out adulting (and no less importantly for those who have more experience and resources), giving back is how we grow. Individually, it helps us grow in compassion, awareness, and ability. Collectively, it helps us grow in relationship, strength, and resilience.
I’ve listed a number of charitable organizations (specifically for disaster relief) below if you’re able/willing to give.
- Puerto Rico
- Hispanic Federation
- Unidos Por Puerto Rico
- Voices for Puerto Rico
- Catholic Relief Services
- GlobalGiving‘s Hurricane Maria relief page
- YouCaring’s Mexico earthquake relief page
- PayPal donations to Topos, a rescue team, can be sent to email@example.com
- Greater Houston Community Foundation
- GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey relief page
- The New York Times put together an article with these and more ways to give
- Las Vegas
- If you’re anywhere nearby, you can donate blood
- GoFundMe page, set up by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak
- National Compassion Fund
- As always, be sure to check out the legitimacy of any organization before donating (sites like Charity Navigator can be helpful), but the ones I listed have all been recommended by reliable sources.
These are non-local or large-scale organizations, but local communities are just as important and can be more effective. For local ways to give back, check out your city’s or county’s website, Google information about volunteering in your area, or (if you’re comfortable doing so) see what opportunities local churches and faith communities offer.
I know that was a ton of info, but hopefully it was helpful. We may not have a lot to give, but if we all give a little, we can do more good than we know. What ways do you enjoy giving back? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up. Thanks so much for reading; let’s make the world a little better this week.
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