Serving others is truly a gift — to those lending a hand and to those being served. But helping others is made even more special when you find a cause or organization that lights a fire in your heart. As you think about your next opportunity to serve, find an issue or cause about which you are passionate or that is related to something in the news which has caught your attention. Here are a few ways to give back that might just change how you think about service.
Around the world — Looking to make a global impact? There are plenty of charities out there with the same idea:
- Unicef is committed to putting a stop to the Ebola epidemic that’s ravaging West Africa and causing alarm throughout the world. Consider making a donation and you could help stop an epidemic and support long-term efforts to improve health care in the region.
- Samaritan’s Purse is providing, food, shelter, heat and basic amenities to refugees who have lost everything while fleeing jihadist occupation in their hometowns. After being terrorized by extremist groups like ISIS, these victims are in need of a safe haven. Your donation to Samaritan’s Purse will help refugees rebuild their lives.
- Consider donating to or volunteering with Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic disaster and relief response organization committed to serving the poor and people in distress around the world.
Food in the belly — At the holidays, many of us are fortunate enough to be stuffed to the brim with delicious delicacies. During these times of plenty, it’s especially important to remember those who go hungry. Here’s how you can make a difference:
- First, check to see if your parish has a food pantry or soup kitchen that’s taking donations or needs volunteers. It’s a great chance to serve your local community and your congregation.
- Ending hunger is not built on the works of a few, but on the sacrifices of many. Feeding America is an organization committed to ending hunger. It’s a great resource for finding local food pantries and soup kitchens where you can volunteer or make a donation. Start giving your time to help the hungry.
- Imagine a world where leftovers don’t go to waste but, instead, feed the hungry. In New York City, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is an organization committed to stopping excess food from going to waste. There’s also Food Rescue in Indiana and Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota. Consider starting, volunteering at or donating to a local food rescue program. Do an online search for food rescue programs in your area and get involved.
Keeping warm — Sometimes the greatest needs are the ones we don’t even notice. A fresh blanket, a gently used coat, new underwear or a pair of shoes can go a long way for someone in need.
- South Texas Refugee Response is looking for clothing and monetary donations to help refugees who have just crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. The relief and response center is a partnership of several local organizations, including Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and Sacred Heart Church. It is committed to providing refugees with a shower, a place to rest for a short while, and a few changes of clothes. Go to their website for a list of current needs.
- Donate a gently used or new coat to a local coat drive. One Warm Coat is dedicated to getting coats to those in need during the harsh winter months. Think about starting a coat or blanket drive for those in need in your community and give the gift of warmth.
- Help women who are preparing for job interviews with a donation to Dress for Success. Dedicated to dressing disadvantaged women who are entering or reentering the workforce but who do not have the appropriate professional wardrobe, the organization also provides career counseling. Give a suit, volunteer or donate to help women find work.
- Although it’s not as popular a donation as coats or toys, for those in need, toiletries are an absolute necessity. Many homeless shelters, women’s shelters and relief organizations need toiletries to give away. Find an organization near you where you can make a gift or get others involved and organize a collection.