Are you feeling called to give back to others? Sometimes this is a calling to do more for others simply because you’re being led. The Bible tells us, “Now you belong to Him…in order that you might be useful in service to God” (Romans 7:4). One of the greatest ways to displays God’s love and reflect Christ’s presence is through acts of kindness and giving back. Regardless of your job or career, you are called to full-time Christian service. If you feel an underlying urge to do something bigger than yourself, to benefit the greater good without any need of reward, you are being called to take up Your cross. Listen to Him. When you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your deeper calling as a Christian. Giving back can also make you happier as a person. When we think about giving back, we often think of doing something that has a price tag attached to it, but helping others doesn’t have to require money. In fact, there are many ways you can give back that are absolutely free. Here are eight creative ways to give back that don’t require a dime.
Organize a Drive
A great way to give back to those in need is by organizing a drive. Begin with a focus. This could be a food or a clothing drive. It can also be a drive that marries the two ideas. One creative idea is a blessing bag drive – these bags can include items people who are homeless or are in need. They can be delivered to shelters, but also carried in your car to deliver to those you may see while you’re driving. Items that can go in these bag include but are not limited to hand-warmers, bottles of water, Band-Aids, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, wash cloths, travel-size toiletries, personal items (new socks, underwear and gloves) and non-perishable foods. There are a number of websites online that include a free printable checklist to get you started. Consider enlisting your neighbors, friends and family to help facilitate the drive. These items may seem small but can make a big difference.
One of the best ways you can help others is by giving back to those in need. Donations to charities are important. These organizations exist to support and raise funds for people who really need the help. They can’t carry out their work without the help of people like you.
Run through your closet and look at gently used items that you’re no longer using but may be beneficial to someone else. Donate clothes such as socks, hats, winter coats and blankets to shelters that you are no longer using or that you may have outgrown. These items are particularly helpful during the winter but can also be beneficial to others at any time of the year.
Compliment a Stranger
One reason compliments are so great is because they make other people feel good and they’re absolutely free. Sometimes we forget how far a compliment can actually go. Who doesn’t like to be acknowledged or told something sweet? Telling someone how nice they look on a bad day or how great they did on a presentation is a sure way to make a person feel good.
A genuine compliment is also an amazing positivity boost that isn’t just good for the recipients but also good for the people who give them as well. If we go out of our way to praise someone else, it also builds up your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Spend Time With Those in Need
Too often the elderly, the home-bound and those in assisted living are forgotten. One great way to give back is by spending quality time with those who may not receive love from anyone else. Help an elderly neighbor with grocery shopping and yard maintenance – or simply spend time with them talking and being a companion. Those who live in elderly care facilities sometimes have family members who live too far to visit them so this is a great time to pop up and volunteer your time. The holidays are a great time to stop by one of these facilities because many people who live in these facilities also want to feel love during holiday seasons. Visiting will mean more to them than you will ever know.
Feed the Hungry
Millions of people in America live in food-insecure households. You may not realize it, but you have the power to make a difference in the lives of those in need. A great way to do this is by decluttering your pantry. Look at what you have. It doesn’t take long and it’s an easy way to remove what hasn’t been consumed. Take any unopened and unexpired items to a food donation pile. Many churches and organizations have food pantries and active food drives. You can feed the hungry by volunteering in a soup kitchen, a local rescue mission or by delivering meals to shut-ins. The holidays are usually the only time of year that these shut-ins get a really special meal and you can help in facilitating this.
Write a Loving Note
Telling a family member, co-worker or friend how they’ve made a difference this week is a sure way to brighten their week. Leave a loving note in a place they will be able to see it. If they spend a lot of time on their phone, you can also send the note through text or social media. It doesn’t have to be extra fancy, but it can be.
While notes to loved ones are special, you can also send a loving note to someone you don’t know. Organizations like Operation Gratitude sends letters of gratitude thanking troops, veterans, new recruits, first responders, wounded heroes and their caregivers for their service. This organization and many others accept letters year-round.
Reconnect With an Old Friend
Good friendship is not only a gift, but also a blessing. A good friend can make you grow in ways you never imagined. In a world where so much seems empty and meaningless, a friend can be a great encourager. One way that you may have never considered giving back is by reconnecting with an old friend. Take the time and reach out with love by writing a letter to a friend who you’ve lost touch. Make sure you make your old friend feel comfortable. It doesn’t have to be long or detailed. Often times, people are just happy that you’ve reached out. One great way to start is by sending a card through the mail. This implies thoughtfulness. Often, handwritten notes are more meaningful than texts.
Volunteer as a Mentor or Tutor
There are many ways you can volunteer your time. A great and creative way to do this is by volunteering as a mentor or a tutor to help a child who is in need of an extra boost. You can get a child hooked on books by volunteering at a local library. There are also organizations like the United Way that connect volunteer readers with children in need of reading help. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It also helps them develop language and listening skills. Even after children are able to read by themselves, it is still super beneficial to read aloud together. This is why this volunteering effort is such a great way to give back.
As Christians, we want to give back to glorify God. Sometimes, we are afraid to answer God’s call to us. We may not know what God is calling us to do with our lives but we want to know what we do has a big purpose. Giving back can reveal the paths Jesus is directing us down. Ultimately, our calling is to love God, love others, obey God, and take care of others. If we can concentrate on fulfilling the responsibilities He’s given us now, God will influence our impact on the world.