Six months ago I decided not to make any new years resolutions as such but to do two things, one was to say yes to the boys more when they ask to do stuff instead of worrying about the mess or time and just let them have fun and the second was to give back to the world more with #myyearofgiving.
The idea of my year of giving project was to encourage myself to give back more and more, to look for opportunities to help others and really make an effort to be a nicer person. I also wanted to do so publicly using this platform to not only encourage others to join in but to promote ways to help the community and the people around us without having to spend money. All too often we are asked to make cash donations, buy raffle tickets or sponsor people for various charities and as much as these are fantastic things to do they do rely on you having some disposable income which isn’t always the case, so I wanted to find some free alternatives and share them.
So far I would sa #myyearofgiving has been a success. I certainly feel I have got involved with things I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the project and I am definitely making more of an effort to offer my time where possible. I have also had numerous messages of support and people telling me that they have been inspired by one of the ideas I have shared and they have gone on to do the same or similar, especially in regards to the stem cell donation which a lot of people said they hadn’t known about before which is great.
If you have missed the last 6 updates then here is a round up of the things I have been up to and hopefully some ideas that you can use if you are looking for ways to give back too.
It is quick and easy to register as a donor and makes sure that your family know your intentions if the worse was to happen. It’s free and requires you to do nothing but complete a form giving consent for your organs to be used after you pass.
Again this is free and in the first instance just requires a form to be completed and then a swab from the inside of your mouth to be sent off. For the majority of people this is where the journey will end but if you do find you are a match you will be asked to donate your stem cells in a similar fashion to giving blood in order to save a life. When I wrote about this a couple of months ago I had a lot of interest and was really pleased to hear about others joining the register too.
Instead of sending old toys or craft items to the tip or a charity shop, why not donate them to your local school? In the last 6 months I have donated some bags of brand new sand to the school as we no longer have a sand pit and a box of toys to the attached nursery. The great thing about this is that you know the donations will be well used and loved by so many children, maybe even your own. For me, the sand was actually used in my sons class which I hadn’t know when I donated it but it is great as he still gets to benefit from it despite us not using it and so do all his friends.
Giving blood is something I have now done 4 times and although I didn’t start donating blood specifically for this project it has encouraged me to keep up with my donations on a more regular basis. Once again it is free, relatively quick and painless, yet life saving. When we can reproduce the donated blood so easily it seems like a great way to give back without spending money, especially as once you have received blood you are no longer able to donate, so start as soon as you can.
Similar to the toys I have found that donating clothes can be done via more channels than just charity shops. It is worth looking into your local area as to who and where accept clothing donations, near me I was able to donate via a womens refuge recommended by Womens aid and I knew the clothes would be worn by people in need immediately, making their day just a tad brighter.
Donating my time is something that I have started to do a lot more off. I got involved with my sons cub group and helped them at their bag packing event at a local supermarket where they were trying to raise funds for the new scouting hut. By just giving a couple of hours of my time I was able to show my child how helpful this could be, encourage him to do so along side me, show an interest in his hobby and hopefully set a good example as he grows.
Another way I have donated my time in the last 6 months is by finding a free workshop for schools and organising for them to come into my sons school and run these for the entire school. Both the teachers and the students will benefit from this later this month and I have also agreed to go back in and donate my time to help out with these on the day.
If you can donate some time then do speak to your local school and see if you can volunteer, most are always looking for extra people to listen to the children read, or maybe even get involved in specific projects especially if you have skills you would be wiling to share with the pupils.
During the month of June I had a clear out of the boys toys and took a box of cars, trucks and a few other bits round to their school and donated them to the nursery. The staff were very grateful and said that at the end of each academic year they too have to have a clear out and get rid of any old or broken toys that have been a little too loved and played with but unfortunately they can’t always replace them with new stock as the budgets are tight and academic items take priority, so these donations are gratefully received. If you are thinking of having a clear out then now is a great time to donate to schools and pre-schools before they close for the summer. If you don’t have links with one then baby and toddler groups, play groups and Sunday schools usually accept these items too.
As I start the next 6 months of #myyearofgiving I am still looking for new ways to give back that won’t cost me money so please do feel free to continue to send me emails with ideas on how and what I can do.