Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Gifts that Count Without Counting Dollars

Spreading holiday cheer doesn't have to break your budget. Giving your time, talent, or just a smile or kind word can lift another person's spirit without costing you a penny. Here are some ways to give this season without spending a lot of money:

Give Blood
On average, we all have about a gallon and a half of blood in our bodies—so why not roll up a sleeve and donate a pint that will go to save up to three lives. In the United States alone, approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used each day and 4.5 million Americans undergo blood transfusions each year. Winter is an especially difficult time for blood banks as drives are cancelled across the nation due to inclement weather. This holiday, donate your life-saving blood without paying a penny. You might even get a free pop and T-Shirt from your donation site! To learn about the local Red Cross Blood Donation Centers, click here.

Adopt a Grandparent
As our population of older Americans continues to grow, so does our need for programs to help these people lead full, productive lives. Both seniors living alone and within senior homes can use someone to share stories with, run errands with, and feel invested in. According to the University of California, 18% of senior citizens live alone and about 43% of these seniors report that they feel lonely on a regular basis. Socialization is a key factor in seniors’ health and can slow the progression of physical and cognitive illnesses.

Love, Inc. is a local nonprofit that provides senior services and programs within area assisted living homes. Click here to learn more.

Volunteer Time at a Local Nonprofit
From local soup kitchens, to churches, to children’s programs, nonprofits are always begging for volunteers to give their time and talent to help the community. You might be able to share your expertise in areas such as business development or tax preparation or simply help out by sorting donations or reading to kids. Find your volunteer niche and reap the benefits of giving while meeting new people! For volunteer opportunities in the Charleston area, click here.

Origin SC is always looking for volunteers! To learn about opportunities to volunteer at Origin SC, click here.

Help a Neighbor with Chores
Have an elderly neighbor or know someone who might have some health issues that prevent him or her from getting around easily? Offer to mow their lawn, rake their leaves, or drive them to the store! This will take a huge burden off of that individual as well as their families.

Shop at a Local Thrift Store
Many thrift stores such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore shops not only have great finds for rock bottom prices, but give the money that they make through their stores to do other good in the community. Goodwill Industries provide job training and employment placement services. Proceeds from ReStore sales support Habitat for Humanity’s mission to make sure everyone in the world has a decent place to live. To learn more about Palmetto Goodwill, click here. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity ReStore, click here.

Babysit for a Single Parent
According to a 2015 study by Child Care Aware, There were over 186,000 single parent families in South Carolina. Even more alarming, the cost of adequate child care makes up 31% of the income for a single mother. Got nothing to do on a Friday night? Why not give a single parent the night off and spend the evening playing dress-up, tea parties, or power rangers?  He or she will be glad to catch a break!

Be a Pet Foster Parent
Pet foster parent program allow cats and dogs to receive more personalized care and attention as they wait for adoption. Often victims of abuse or neglect, these furry ones can be difficult to care for in a shelter environment with limited one-on-one attention. Foster pet programs give these animals a temporary home where they can better adjust while waiting to be adopted. The Charleston Animal Society has a foster animal program. Learn more about it here.

Invite a Friend Over for Dinner
The easiest way to make conversation and get to know one another is over a nice hot meal. Invite a friend over who may be going through a difficult time and enjoy a home cooked meal together. They will appreciate your hospitality and the opportunity to relax and have a stress-free meal will help take their mind off of whatever it is their dealing with. This will also keep that leftovers plate from sitting in the back of the fridge, forgotten.

Be a Mentor
You don’t have to be a teacher, a coach, or a counselor to be a positive role model for a student. Adolescence is an important period of development and young people need knowledge from experience, advice, and encouragement from people outside of direct authoritative roles such as parents and teachers. 59% of mentored teens earn better grades. 27% are less likely to begin using alcohol. Mentored youth have greater likelihoods of going to college, improved self-esteem, and increased socioemotional development. A few great mentoring organizations here in Charleston include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Be a Mentor, and Reading Partners!

Leave Positive Reviews

With the number of people rushing to the internet with the slightest bad experience, it is nice for businesses to get a positive public comment or review. This can really make a difference in a potential new customer using their product or service. If you have used a company and are satisfied with what you received, let people know about it! 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends. Sites such as Yelp, Yahoo, Angie’s List and Facebook all allow you to share business reviews.

Donate Rewards
Many credit cards and business rewards programs allow members to donate points to a nonprofit of their choice. American Express has the Members Give program allowing cardholders to donate $10 for every 1,000 points to any non-profit registered with their program. Southwest Airlines also has a list of charities that points can be donated to. Rather than leaving those points to expire before you can use them, put them to good use through these point donation programs.

Double Your Donation
In the spirit of corporate philanthropy and employee belongingness, many companies will match charitable gifts made by their employees, sometimes up all the way up to 100%. Our local corporation, Boeing, matches donations up to 100% up to $6,000! Find out if your employer participates in a gift matching program and stretch your dollar even further!

To donate to Origin SC, click here

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