15 Gracious Ways to Make the World a Better Place


“Give thanks. Appreciate what you DO have…the more we give thanks, the more we receive to be thankful for. Gratitude is the gift that always gives back.” – Matthew McConaughey

In November and December, there are many opportunities to be thankful for all we have and to show others how much we care about them. Why not go a step further and find new ways to give back to your community, country and world? The best way to show gratitude for our good fortune is doing acts of kindness and giving back what we can, and fortunately technology has made it extremely easy to give back in a number of ways. Finding opportunities to volunteer your time, using your skills and talents to help others, or giving a donation has never been easier. Explore the fifteen opportunities in this list and select a few that you can engage in to show your gratitude during the holiday.

1. Volunteer in your community

Visit the HandsOn network to find a volunteer action center near you and discover where help is needed in your community. HandsOn Network includes 250 volunteer action centers that extend to 16 countries around the world. These centers help people find and engage in volunteer opportunities in their local communities. (handsonnetwork.org)

2. Give the gift of life, donate blood

Giving blood is healthy for the donor and you just might help save a life. Give blood at your local hospital or check for another location online at americasblood.org.

3. Give back through hobbies and skills

What talents or skills do you have that you can use to help others? You may have mechanical skills or the ability to teach others. A specific organization is Project Linus, where they encourage knitters and quilters to make a homemade blankets for seriously ill and traumatized children. (projectlinus.org)

4. Give winter clothes to those in need

If you use clothing hanging around that hasn’t been worn in years it’s time to pass it on. Particularly during the fall and winter months. Dig out some coats you don’t need and donate them to One Warm Coat. (onewarmcoat.org/donate/donate-a-coat)

5. Donate to a food bank

As we’re stuffing our face with a smorgasbord of food this Thanksgiving remember that there is a family who isn’t so fortunate. Find a food bank near you and donate or volunteer. (feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx)

6. Raise money while surfing the internet

How easy does that sound? Use goodsearch.com for your Internet searches, and money will be donated to the charity of your choice. Select a charity of your choice, sign-up, and track how much money you raise. I selected The Humane Society.

7. Give back when you shop

Shop online at more than 1,000 stores and iGive will donate a percentage of the proceeds to a charity you select. Sign-up to iGive.com and install their button on your browser. They do the rest by tracking the purchases of each individual iGive member with a member ID number.  Causes always receive 100% of the donation amount which is advertised on their web site. (igive.com)

8. Give the gift of knowledge

Got some books collecting dust? Select some good books from your shelves and donate them to a “Books for Prisoners” program. This program sends free books to individual prisoners in the United States. Help prisoners gain independence by empowering them with knowledge and self-growth. (prisonbookprogram.org/otherprograms.php)

9. Participate in an online auction

Check out the auctions of donated items and shop for a cause at BiddingForGood. BiddingForGood is a charitable e-commerce company that connects fundraisers, cause-conscious shoppers, and socially responsible businesses. They provide an online auction platform, where nonprofits and schools, consumers and businesses converge to create fundraising events.(biddingforgood.com)

10. Help heal through art

Spread comfort and hope by donating your most beautiful nature photos to the Foundation for Photo Art in Hospitals. This foundation’s goals is to place colorful, soothing photographs of nature in hospitals to give comfort and hope to patients and their families, visitors, and caregivers. (healingphotoart.org)

11. Give the gift of sight

I have a prescription for glasses and can’t imagine how difficult it would be if I was unable to afford glasses or contacts. This Thanksgiving you can help a child read easier, a adult keep their job, and a senior maintain their independence by donating used eyeglasses. (bit.ly/EyeglassRecycling)

12. Give a microloan

A gift certificate for a Kiva microloan makes a terrific last-minute gift. You can help alleviate poverty by giving a $25 microloan to a budding third-world entrepreneur who is struggling across the globe. (kiva.org)

13. Enjoy trivia and feed the poor

Freerice.com is a simple and easy way to help ward off hunger. Challenge your family and friends to answer trivia questions on freerice.com and earn rice for hungry people. Answer just ten questions you have earned an entire bowl of rice.

14. Give back as you shop

Sell, shop, and donate for a good cause. At givingworks.ebay.com, you can browse through thousands of listings to support your favorite nonprofits, donate 10-100% of your sale to a charity as well as make immediate donations through PayPal. (givingworks.ebay.com)

15. Commit to give back all year round

Browse the site Great Nonprofits and choose an organization to support in 2013. Keep your gracious momentum rolling by making a resolution to give back all year round. (greatnonprofits.org) Spread the word about a cause or charitable organization you’re passionate about. Get your friends and family on board with some of these suggestions, or find your own way to give back this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!