Baby boomers have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Opportunities are vast. Take what you are passionate about, start small, and expand your reach.
1. Support Education
Many schools gather extra funds through easy ways in which you can be involved. Box Tops for Education, Campbell’s Soup Labels, or TerraCycle are examples of popular programs. Choose your grandchild, student neighbor, a church member’s school, or pick your local school with the most need. Call the school you choose to see what fundraising methods they participate in.
2. Clean Water
3.4 million people each year die because of their lack of access to clean water (Water.org). You can help reduce that number by supporting clean water initiatives. Get involved in one of the following organizations dedicated to providing clean water: WaterAid, Water.org, or Blood Water Mission.
3. International and Local Relief
Sponsoring through international relief programs can make a huge difference to children and their families. Here are a few places to get started: World Vision, Save the Children, World Renew Free a Family, and Compassion International. These organizations and others also have wonderful gift catalogs that allow you to pick out specific gifts that make a difference: Compassion International, World Vision, Heifer Project, World Renew, and Save the Children. 94% of domestic humanitarian efforts by the Red Cross are made up of volunteers. If you want to stay close to home, you can also try Feeding America or Volunteers of America.
4. Shop with a Purpose
Microfinance provides funds for low-income individuals or those that do not have access to bank lending programs. Given access to loans that are repaid, many individuals are able to lift themselves and their families from poverty through small business. Choose a Kiva loan to fund and know that you are empowering lives and giving hope.
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7. OxFam GROW Method
Get involved with the GROW Method through OxFam International. Implementing the GROW Method in your life and encouraging others to do the same will help the issues of hunger and poverty globally. The five simple steps of saving food, buying seasonally, using less, supporting fair trade and farmers’ markets, and growing your voice can make a real difference.
8. We Give Books
Cuddle up with your grandkids and read online books. We Give Books offers many award-winning book choices. The best part – when you read a digital book, a book is given to a non-profit around the world in need of resources.
9. Human Trafficking
Slavery still exists and ending that fact should be a high priority for anyone longing to make a difference. You can get involved through END IT: Shine a Light on Slavery, The Polaris Project, Not for Sale Campaign, and The Exodus Road.
10. 10X10 Act
Support global girls’ education through the documentary film Girl Rising. Get involved with the 10X10 Act NGO partners: ANDC, CARE, Partners in Health, Room to Read, Girl Up, Plan International, and World Vision.
Every time you clean house or organize, you have the opportunity to make a difference through donation. Here are some ideas to get you started: host a Souls4Shoes clothing or shoe drive, donate building supplies through Habitat for Humanity ReStore, plan a fundraising yard sale for a cause. General household items are always welcome through Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army.
12. Helping those with Disabilities
Being involved in your local Special Olympics program might be one of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities you can do. Consider volunteering and providing support at your local school in the resource area. Families facing a member with mental health challenges also need respite and support. Be aware of opportunities to support in that way, too.
13. Volunteering with Seniors
Senior citizens open up many doors of opportunity to make a difference. Something as simple as a regular visit can brighten up the long day of the homebound or nursing home resident. Call your local nursing home and ask what volunteer opportunities they provide. You might find yourself painting fingernails, organizing Bingo, or making room calls.
Have you made a difference through any of these organizations? What was your experience? What new area could you try?