12 Ways To Give Back

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Published: November 2, 2014


As the holiday seasons draw near, we’re reminded of the many material and spiritual gifts we’ve received. We are also motivated to return the favor. In the spirit of good tidings and well wishes to all, here are a dozen easy ways to give thanks, kindness, grace and so much more.

1. Break Bread

One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of the food with others. Therefore cultivate conversation and goodwill by giving the gift of a good meal. Participate in a local food drive by donating your favorite foods. Action Against Hunger, Caritas Nigeria and Foodbank Nigeria are all good places to start. If you want to make a more personalized gesture, drop off an anonymous care package of tasty treats to a friend or neighbor in need, or pick up a stranger’s tab at your favorite lunch or dinner spot.

2. Forward Your Fashion

We’ve all got our favorite go-to threads in our closet, but nothing delights like a dazzling new outfit. If you’re in the habit of handing your old or worn clothes to local charities, change things up and be fashion-friendly by donating brand new duds—the kind you wouldn’t mind keeping for yourself. Organizations like Oxfam and Dress for Success are always on the lookout for stylish contributions.

3. Let Your Love Flow

Saving a life is the ultimate expression of love and compassion—and you don’t have to be a soldier to do it. Donations of whole blood, platelets, plasma and double red cells are key to successful outcomes in cancer treatments, surgical procedures and battles with deadly diseases. Particularly if you are in Nigeria, in good health, feeling well and meet your community’s local blood donor requirements, visit One Percent Project or National Blood Transfusion Service to give blood and save a life today.

4. Spare More than a Dime

In addition to donating food, clothing and blood, don’t forget to give money. Cash is the one resource that can apply to and assist with any cause. Doctors without Borders—the folks leading the fight against Ebola—need more resources to carry on their fight. Ribbon Rouge, an outstanding effort to promote education and staunch the spread of HIV, need more funds to provide HIV treatment. African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association depends on donations to provide cancer prevention and treatment to Africans worldwide. Any and every cause dear to your heart can always use money. You can make a cash donation to a favorite charity, church or humanitarian effort. You can also make a more personalized cash donation by paying the school fees for an underprivileged child.

5. Reach Out and Teach

Whether you lead a grand or modest life, you’ve got something valuable to pass on to the next generation. Your knowledge is precious. Your successes and failures, goals and accomplishments are all lessons than can enrich and inspire a young person’s life. Make an investment of your time and know-how at a local school, or nurture and empower a child through the Street Child Care and Welfare Initiative.

6. Perform a Random Act of Kindness

Folks often say that it’s the little things that make life sweet. Do your part to sweeten someone’s day by giving a surprise favor. Treat a coworker to a cup of tea or coffee. Wash and vacuum your significant other’s car. Next time you get a shoe shine, treat the next customer. Or simply smile and wish a stranger a good day.

7. Plan (and Implement) a Litter Patrol

Everyone loves clean. Clean hands, clean clothes, clean homes and clean streets are good for our health as well as our sense of pride. If you see a piece of trash in your community, pick it up and properly dispose of it. Better yet, organize a weekly neighborhood patrol to keep your community clean. You’ll not only benefit from a clean space, you’ll also build a stronger relationship with your neighbors along with a shared sense of ownership.

8. Spell Out Your Appreciation

Throughout our lives, we’ve all had friends, mentors, role models and heroes who have made positive impacts on our lives. Yet we often don’t take the time to communicate to those heroes just how they’ve affected us. If you haven’t taken the time to thank your hero, seize the day by writing a letter or a thank you card to express your gratitude. Saying “thank you” will be just as good for you as it is for them.

9. Unplug and Reconnect

With today’s work demands and constant digital distractions, it can be easy to get pulled away from those most important in life—family. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and unplug. That means taking time off from work, switching off the smartphone or tablet, and turning off the television to make quality time for family. Plan a family meal, organize a game night or coordinate an activity in which you and your family can enjoy the blessings you have in each other.

10. Make New Memories with Old Friends

Distance, disagreements and responsibilities often play a role in losing touch with someone once near and dear. This season, make an effort to restore old relationships. If miles separate you, try to meet each other halfway or make time for a long, uninterrupted phone call. If you’ve had a dispute, forgive, forget and move on together. If you both have busy schedules, set a buddy appointment together and keep it. A good old friend—one who truly knows and understands you—is always worth the effort.

11. Gift Good Health

Health is wealth. If you want to give a truly luxurious gift, then treat those on your gift list to treats that promote well-being long after the holiday season has ended. Give a gym membership, yoga class or a CrossFit workout session. Give soulful music, concert tickets or instrument lessons. Give a gift certificate for a monthly back massage or foot rub. Give seeds and tools to plant and nurture a home garden.

12. Stand Up and Speak Out

Any luxury or benefit we enjoy today is due to the efforts of those who acted yesterday. Their selflessness and unwavering desire to combat injustice is an inspiration to keep up the good fight. Therefore honor their memories by doing your own part to improve the world around you. Your act can be as simple as standing up for someone against a bully or boycotting an unethical product. Whatever the cause or issue, give the gift of civic responsibility and inspire a new generation in your own way.

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About Nikki Igbo

Nikki Igbo is a blogger, writer, editor and political scientist. She received her BA in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and her MFA in Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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