New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be stressful or even life-changing. Usually, when we are brainstorming the perfect resolution for the year ahead, we think of what will make us better. This might include saving money, losing weight, or cutting something out of your life. This year, let’s think out of the box and take these ideas one step further. Let’s make a resolution that will help us help others by giving back, performing acts of kindness, maybe even donating.
Here are 12 ways to give back to the community through charities, organizations, and brands this year.
1. Find a cause you care about.
Sometimes it can be challenging to find a cause you care about that’s also close to home. That’s where Volunteer Match comes in—it’s like an job search site for volunteers, with more than 100,000 participating charities. Whether you’re looking to work with kids, support the arts, or help the elderly, sign up and get in touch with a nearby nonprofit that needs your help.
2. Play with furry friends.
Furry friends (and their caretakers) need help too! The Humane Society and local animal shelters across the U.S. have a bunch of volunteer opportunities. You can walk dogs, care for kitties, and ultimately make a difference in many animals’ lives. Reach out to a shelter near you to find out what kind of help that particular location might need.
3. Assist seniors in need.
Older folks tend to get left out of typical give-back opportunities, but let’s not forget about them. Create a volunteer account on Elder Helpers and choose what kind of help you’re up for offering—everyday tasks as simple as grocery shopping, cleaning, or lending a helping hand in the kitchen can be a huge support for homebound seniors.
4. Lift a soldier’s spirits.
All it takes is a pen, paper, and a little bit of your time.Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that not only sends care packages to military personnel stationed away from home but also encourages anyone who can to write a simple letter thanking these men and women for their service. Check out a few helpful guidelines here, take a few minutes to compose your prose, and send it off to the organization.
5. Help build a house.
Habitat for Humanity’s main goal: making sure people have safe, decent places to live. Play an active part in this by volunteering for any of their numerous programs, all of which aid in building housing in the U.S. and all around the world. You can also donate things like furniture and appliances; the nonprofit sells these items to raise funds to help build homes.
6. Share your skills.
Think of Catchafire like a matchmaker, but instead of setting you up with dates, it’ll hook you up with volunteer opportunities that match your skillset and interests. Just create a profile (nonprofits want to know about you too!), check out their Open Projects page, apply for the one you like, and wait to hear if you’re accepted. The whole system is seamless and transparent: You can see exactly how much time you’ll put in per project—and most are online-only (i.e. can be completed from your couch). How easy is that?
Brands to Buy
1. Out of Print
Embracing your inner English major is cooler and better than ever thanks to Out of Print. The company’s merchandise, which includes everything from comfy t-shirts to totes to notebooks, features cover art of books, usually rare, old, or—you guessed it!—out of print. For each and every product you buy on their site, the company promotes reading by donating one book to a community in need.
Talk about putting your online shopping habit to good use. Just register, choose your cause (they’ve got thousands of great options, like UNICEF and the World Wide Fund for Nature), and then shop via the site. GoodSearch then donates a percentage of each purchase to your cause. Bonus: It sets you up with some awesome deals and coupons, so you’re saving money and saving the world, one shopping spree at a time.
3. Michael Kors Watch Hunger Stop
Look good, do good: That’s the name of the game with these chic and shiny Michael Kors watches. Every watch sold ensures that 100 children receive a nutritious meal—the brand donates a portion of the profits to the World Food Programme to make this possible. Telling time has never felt so good.
4. This Bar Saves Lives
These gluten-free snack bars satisfy hunger on a whole new level. Each bar (or cute t-shirt or bag) you buy makes it possible for the company and its nonprofit partners (like Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, and more) to give one packet of food to a child in need. And with flavors like dark chocolate cherry and sea salt or wild blueberry pistachio, your cravings will be squashed in the most delicious way.
5. Esperos Bags
The way this company works is pretty simple: You buy a high-quality, classic canvas bag, and a child in need receives a year of schooling. Esperos donates 10 percent of its profits to The Nobelity Project, a nonprofit that helps fund education for children in Kenya. And with unique, hand-crafted bags and backpacks that last for years, you know you’re making a good investment for yourself and for others.
6. CLIF Bar
Now this is smart snacking. In the spirit of giving, the bar company partnered with the nonprofit Protect Our Winters (POW) to help educate the winter sports world about how climate change affects cold-weather communities. CLIF Bar pledges to donate 1 percent of net sales from their seasonal bar flavors to POW. And for the record, the flavors we’re talking about—hot chocolate, iced gingerbread, and spiced pumpkin pie—are the bomb dot com. Grab ‘em before they’re gone.