With the start of a new year, millions of Americans have committed to losing 30 pounds by next December or to saving enough dough to buy a fancy ride. Of the 13 most popular New Year’s resolutions, according to USA.gov, drinking less, losing weight and getting a better education are at the top of the list. Besides recycling, only one involves improving the lives of others.
Pledging to help people doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking; it can mean anything from doing crafts with your elderly neighbors to traveling with the American Red Cross when disaster strikes. We’ve done the research and come up with a few ideas on how you can make a difference with this New Year’s vow.
Build a House for the Homeless
Whether you’re driven by religion or just a desire to put a roof over someone’s head, Habitat for Humanity is a match for nondenominational service living. Since its inauguration in 1976, it has helped more than 600,000 families. According to its 2012 annual report, more than 1.6 billion people worldwide are living in “substandard housing,” and the philanthropic group won’t stop until each one has a home. Because Habitat has locations in all 50 states and almost 80 countries, it’s simple to find one near you.
Feed the Hungry
In heavily populated urban cities and barely inhabited rural towns, there are people struggling with malnutrition and food insecurity everywhere. Feeding America, a national hunger-relief charity, reported that more than 50 million Americans were living in food-insecure environments in 2011, a third of them being children. The three states with the highest hunger rates were Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. Feeding America offers a directory of food banks for aspirant volunteers in every state. If you prefer more direct interaction, find a house of worship or nonprofit group in your neighborhood where you can cook for and serve the people in your own community.
Play with Orphaned Pups
Whose heart doesn’t break when hearing about mistreated animals? The Humane Society of the United States has given a voice not just to dogs and cats, but to every species in the animal kingdom. For centuries, it has considered the non-human race in emergency rescue, taken on cases of cruelty and abuse and introduced wildlife conservation into the public sphere. Billions of pets are begging to be adopted in shelters around the country. Animals depend on us for care and protection—and there are many ways to join their fight.
Spend a Saturday
Not ready to make a long-term commitment? Other ways to spend a day lending a helping hand include donating blood, volunteering at the Special Olympics or making friends with residents in a nearby nursing home. Everyone has a soft spot for something and with some reflective thinking, it isn’t difficult to find your philanthropic niche. After all, the coming of a new year doesn’t mean old problems have disappeared.
This is a post from the Feather archives. We lost all of our old content, so we’ll be reposting some of our favorite stories.