Most of us lead busy, hectic lives, but we still care deeply about helping others. In only a few minutes of a single day, you can make a difference in the world. Here are some suggestions from Karen Jones, founder of the organization Benevolent Planet, that are easy to fit into your day. What a difference a day makes!

1. Bring Relief to Families
Contact a homeless shelter for families in your area to ask how you might help with a field trip, picnic, or art workshop for its younger residents.

2. Buy Some Time
Put a quarter in an expired parking meter at an occupied parking space. It's a small gesture that can save someone a big ticket.

3. Blanket a Baby
If you can knit, crochet, quilt, or complete a fleece or fiber-art baby blanket in a day, you can comfort a vulnerable child. Project Linus provides new, homemade, washable blankets and afghans, created by volunteer blanketeers, to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Find all you need to know at projectlinus.org or contact:

Project Linus PO Box 5621 Bloomington, IL 61702-562 309-664-7814 Email: Information@projectlinus.org
4. Help Someone See
Drop off your old eyeglasses at a LensCrafters in your area; they'll donate them through the Gift of Sight program to people in developing countries who need them.

5. Pass on the Present
Are you celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other gift-getting occasion? Pick a nonprofit organization you admire and ask gift-givers to make donations to that organization instead of giving you stuff.

6. Give Away That Old Phone
CollectiveGood recycles your used cell phones and other mobile devices to benefit your choice of more than fifty partner charities. For example, you can drop used cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and pagers at any Staples store to support the Sierra Club.

7. Outfit a New Employee
Donate gently used professional work clothing and accessories to organizations that help low-income men and women get and keep jobs. Look for a collection site under Social Service Organizations in your local Yellow Pages, or visit careergear.org (for men) and dressforsuccess.org (for women) for drop-off and mailing instructions.

8. Help a Shelter Resident Find a Job
A day at your computer can transform a life; become a virtual volunteer by going to volunteermatch.org and clicking on Virtual. For example, some shelters need volunteers to surf the Internet looking for entry-level job openings in different industries, then email or fax their findings for postings on the shelter's job board.

9. Be the Best Medicine
Create and deliver a special "care kit" for a sick friend: soup, magazines, wool socks, mentholated breathing strips, tissues with lotion for a sore nose.

10. Don't Medicate the Fish
Old or excess medications flushed into sewage systems or discarded where drainage can transport them to waterways can affect aquatic life. Call your pharmacy or local hospital to ask if they collect expired medications for safe disposal or destruction. If they don't, contact your local hazardous-waste disposal center for instructions.

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