CharityLifestyle

A Charitable New Year’s Resolution

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Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Are they the ones you’ve made year after year but haven’t kept? Many people do it. Most people do it. And the reason that the majority of New Year’s resolutions aren’t kept is simple: those New Year’s resolutions are just not the right ones for you. Not at the time you make them anyway. Losing weight, putting an end to a bad habit such as smoking or biting your nails, eating more healthily, putting money into savings… They’re great ideas, and good things to do, but if you aren’t ready to do them it won’t matter whether they are New Year’s resolutions or not – they won’t be kept. Basically, make resolutions that will benefit you, and that you’re ready to carry out.

One resolution that fits that bill is another popular one: charity work. Volunteering at a charity, or carrying out some charitable action such as raising money, is a wonderful way to start the new year, and it’s something that will not only make you feel better, but those you are helping will benefit too. Even those of us with the busiest of lives would find it beneficial to take a little time (just one hour a week, or even a month, can make all the difference to everyone involved), or a lot of time, to do our bit for charity.

Volunteering, no matter how big a project or how small you think your contribution is, features in most of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions lists that you’ll see. So you’re not alone. Make 2016 the year you volunteer.

So how to get started? The good news is there are loads of ways you can help out, and you can pick a method that suits you and your lifestyle, which means everyone can get involved.

Regular Donations

If – and only if – you can spare the money, why not consider setting up a standing order with your bank to send a regular donation to your favourite charity or charities each month? It doesn’t have to be a fortune, a few pounds will be more than gratefully received, and the money will go towards good causes and fundraising for whatever those who are in need require. It’s easy to do – most charities will have a form to complete online, or a quick phone call will give you all the information you need.

Give Blood

It’s not all about the money. Blood stocks are always running low, so every extra pint helps enormously. It’s especially important to donate if you have a rare blood type, but everyone (between 17 and 66) is welcome to do so as long as they meet the health and safety criteria. This is to protect the donor and recipient, and checking eligibility is as simple as filling in a form. It’s possible to give blood multiple times in the year, as long as there is an eight-week gap between donations.

Visit an Older Person, or Help Out a Younger One

Have you got an elderly neighbour, friend, or relative who could do with a helping hand? Whether it’s a bit of gardening, some housework, picking up the weekly shop, or just popping in for a cup of tea and a chat, it’s good to know someone is out there willing to spend some time with those who are on their own. You can even join local organisations (or regional ones, if that suits, such as Age UK) who will pair you up with an elderly person who you can visit and give them something to smile about.

At the other end of the spectrum, young adults and teenagers can often do with a helping hand too. If there is a local youth club or after school club, or Scouts or Guides locally, why not volunteer to help out? And if there isn’t, how about getting a group together to start one? It’ll do wonders for the kids’ self-esteem knowing there are people out there who want to see them succeed.

Donate To A Food Bank

We’ve all over indulged at Christmas. We all spent too much. We all feel a bit guilty… probably. So why not start the new year in the right way and donate any food you’re not going to be able to eat to your local food bank? There will be one, they are opening up all the time as the need is so great.

Get Sponsored

Doing something out of the ordinary and getting sponsored for it is a great way of helping out a charity or local cause. It could be a fun (or not so fun) run, a sponsored silence, waxing, a head shave, sky-diving, the old favourite of sitting in a bath of beans… It doesn’t matter what, you can do whatever makes you feel good, as you’ll be making money to help those who need it most whilst indulging in a bit of fun.

Make Money

Speaking of making money, if your house is heaving with bits and bobs after Christmas that you just don’t need (even unwanted gifts), have you considered setting up a charity auction on eBay? It works in the same way as when you sell something for yourself, but you can specify which charity the money is to go to. You’ll be doing something good and clearing your house of clutter at the same time. If not eBay, what about a garage sale or table-top market? Get friends together, hire a hall, advertise, sell teas and coffees and cakes, and raise money for charity. Another option is a charity fundraiser – a ball, disco, a fancy dinner… whatever works, and whatever makes people buy tickets, that’s what you need to do. It may take a bit of organising, but the payoff is huge.

Be Kind

This one is less about charity and more about the world in general. Be kind. It’s a simple phrase, but it’s not practised enough. If you see someone – anyone – struggling, help them. Help someone cross the road, help them carry something heavy, let someone out in traffic, hold a door open, smile… It makes all the difference. Take it further and check out www.payitforwarduk.net. This worldwide movement is all about doing nice things for strangers, and simple asking them to ‘pay it forward’ (ie do the same for someone else) in return. It’s a beautiful and inspiring message and we can always do with more beauty and inspiration in the world.

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