Making a Difference! Who? You!

Most people know the importance of giving back, but often times we don’t plan to set time aside to give back, don't know where or how to get started. One of the founding blocks of Accel is our commitment to giving back to our community. There are some really easy ways to get involved starting devoting anywhere from 5 minutes up to 1+ hours.

5 Minute Projects

Write a letter to a solider
Soldiers spend countless months away from their family and friends in foreign countries or new cities, which can be lonely. You can easily send a short and sweet letter to brighten their day by expressing your gratitude for the sacrifices they make to protect our freedom. This takes only five minutes and only costs a stamp, envelope and a piece of paper. Operation Gratitude provides great guidelines for writing these letters. 
Sponsor a Child
There are dozens of reputable organizations that offer child sponsorships which provide food, educational opportunities, healthcare, and other incredible benefits around the world. You can literally change the life of a child by signing up to support them in 5 minutes or less. Most organizations encourage monthly or quarterly communication between the sponsor and the child, so you can really get to know each other and build the relationship. A few organizations include: Save the ChildrenCompassion International, World Vision, and International Rescue Committee.

30 Minute Projects

Make Homeless Bags
Most major cities and even suburbs have a large homeless population. You can fill reusable bags with nonperishable food items and hygiene items like deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. To add a personal touch, include an encouraging note to let every person know they are loved and cared about. One word of caution, do not include your last name or any contact information for your own safety.  Once your bags are ready to go, throw them in your trunk. Then, every time you see someone in need, you have a simple gift to give! 
Donate Food or Clothing
Food pantries find their stock low during the summer months because of the influx of children who need lunches at home instead of eating at school. Simply, swing by your grocery store to pick up some nonperishable items and drop them off at a food pantry. You can also donate your gently used clothing. There are donation centers in most cities and they take any clothing you no longer wear.  Take a few minutes to purge your closet or pantry for goodies and give these to a family in need.

1 Hour or More Projects

Make a Meal for a Family
All of us have friends or family dealing with loss or illness.  One simple way to help is by making a meal for them.  This is one less thing for them to think about in the midst of chaos. Here are a few tips: make a dish that is easy to warm up, paired with a delicious salad and a yummy dessert. This small act of kindness will brighten their day. You can also include a sweet note simply saying you love them and are thinking of them.
Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter
Most animal shelters constantly need people to walk the dogs, clean cages, feed animals, or just show these animals love. Call your local shelter and see how you can help. Volunteering just one hour can make a huge difference for these animals and the people who take care of them. Plus this is a free way for everyone to give back.
Volunteer at a Senior Center
Think about the residents at nursing homes, most of these elderly people do not get visitors very often. An afternoon-visit, talking with them or playing games with them will absolutely brighten their day. Many nursing homes have bingo nights or other game nights and need volunteers to help run these games. Spending just one hour can make a huge difference in the lives of these residents. If you are wondering, "What do I say to someone I don't know?"  It's actually easier than you think.  Talk about the weather, sports, their grandchildren, their hobbies, let them talk about themselves. You'll be fascinated by the stories you will hear.
There are simple things we can do every day to give back to the people around us. Write an encouraging note and leave in a public restroom, on a car, or anywhere someone will see it. Pay for the person behind you in a drive through and many times it will start a chain reaction. Sometimes the simplest of actions will have the most profound effect.
These are just a few suggestions.  There are dozens of other volunteer opportunities for you in your community. Think about what you are passionate about and actively seek out how you can get involved. Once you start volunteering, you will naturally want to involve your friends and family. Doing projects together is a great way to spend time together while helping your community! #AccelInMotion
Written By: Elizabeth McHan
Share your favorite ways to serve your community below!

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