Rise as a Community Star 2

Please take a moment and ask yourself, “Do you sit back or step up?”

I think this is something we should be asking ourselves and our family members at an early age. However, I have found that no matter what age you are, you can always find a way to step up and give back!

So many meaningful service opportunities abound in our community! Your children can start with service clubs at their schools or religious organizations. It is important to know that you don’t always have to be a member to participate in outreach programs. Strike up a conversation with parents, friends, teachers and neighbors—the most important thing you can do is take the first step in finding a cause you are passionate about and learn more about a specific organization’s mission and vision rather than moving from charity to charity. You might enjoy being more involved, and the organization will surely appreciate your dedication and commitment. Start by trying out working with different organizations to see which one speaks to you.

Here are some great ideas for community service:

  • Search your home to find gently used items that aren’t needed anymore to donate to local shelters. Schools may also collect items for needy students. Ask if they need volunteers to sort or distribute donations.
  • Local food banks are another great resource to support. Most of us have nonperishable items that we know we are never going to use, so go ahead and donate them. When you drop off these items, ask if there are any volunteer opportunities available that you might be interested in.
  • Police and fire stations, as well as foster agencies and hospitals often welcome new or gently used toys and stuffed animals. Check to see what their needs are throughout the seasons.
  • Gift certificates are always a great donation. I did this during the holiday seasons; I admire the idea of becoming a secret gift giver by paying off someone’s holiday gift balance.
  • On your next birthday, consider asking your friends to donate to a charity in your name.
  • Reading materials for libraries and schools are another thing needed, as are volunteer readers.
  • Consider helping on local political committees.
  • So many of our neighbors might not have any family; offer yard work or do household errands for someone in need.
  • Are you computer-savvy? Share your skills at a local senior center.
  • Volunteer as a tutor in a subject that you love or are knowledgeable about. Often there are many tutoring opportunities in the community.
  • Into history? Local museums often need volunteers to serve as docents and guides.
  • Are you sporty? Volunteer to coach or referee a sports team.
  • Creative? Donate homemade blankets or artwork to charitable groups.
  • Another idea is to volunteer to set up and manage social media accounts for nonprofit organizations.
  • Do you bake? Participate in bake sales with your favorite recipes for charity events or local craft fairs.
  • If you are a musician, volunteer to give music lessons to people in your community who can’t afford it.

My daughter’s husband was a Marine, so she started her own campaign sending thousands of packages and cards to deployed troops, veterans and wounded soldiers. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s called Locals to Locals. This was a great idea that filled her heart.

It is up to you to choose the cause, the amount of time you have available, and the type of service in which you want to participate in as community service. For example, you can start a campaign to raise awareness about anything you’re passionate about or volunteer for a cause according to your schedule and pace!

The best advice I have regarding stepping up in your community is to not leave your gifts undiscovered and to share them with the world. When we give back, we are also receiving. Always remember to use your knowledge for the better. Believe it or not, the knowledge we take for granted can really make a difference in someone else’s life. So, go ahead and try some of these ideas and think about how to make your own gifts shine as you become a community star.

Listen to the Kim Pagano Show Saturdays from 6-8 a.m. on 1590 KVTA, visit KimPaganoShow.com or tune in to her podcast at iTunes/The Kim Pagano Show for inspiration.