8 Ways to Give Back Without Giving Money

8 Ways to Give Back Without Giving Money
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We are entering the more self-reflective time of year, (well for many of us at least) examining our last trip around the sun and wondering how we did. For some, we start to feel a little extra charitable or inspired to give more because (we failed miserably) get wrapped up in the spirit of the season.

For those unsure of how to help, financial contributions are not the only way to assist those in need. There are many ways to lift others up that require little action and no I am not talking about "slacktivism" - if your charitable contribution is somehow tied to you purchasing a product, that's called slick marketing, just say no - there are better ways to help.

Allow me to share some of my favorites:

1. The Magic Yarn Project
This is currently one of my favorite charities. If you do decide to peruse their website, you may want to grab some tissues. Volunteers with basic crochet or knitting skills can lend their talents to making princess wigs from yarn for little girls going through chemotherapy. Or if you know someone who can help you knit or crochet one of the beanies, you can assemble the rest of the wig yourself. There are plenty of patterns and great instructional videos on how to assemble the wigs. I will definitely be attempting these!

2. Project Linus
Another crafter organization, Project Linus, accepts donations of new handmade blankets for ill or traumatized children or those otherwise in need. It appears as though they also accept the materials used to make blankets, so you don't even need to create something, just clean out your craft closet. Check out their website for a location near you or a mailing address for shipping.

3. Nike - Reuse a shoe
Have some cruddy old athletic shoes lying around? Help Nike create less waste, by donating them to one of their Reuse-A-Shoe drop-off locations. The old shoes are converted into what is referred to as "Nike Grind," which is a material used in creating select, new Nike products or turned into athletic or playground surfaces.

4. Project Sunshine
The 15,000 or so volunteers of this non-profit provide programs like art, tutoring, nutritional counseling and mentoring to 100,000 children with medical conditions and their families. These volunteers provide much needed normalcy for kids in 175 cities across the US as well as Canada, China, Israel and Kenya.

5. Share your pup
If you have a loving and caring dog, share the joy they bring you daily and get trained and certified with a therapy dog organization. You can visit those that need a little extra light in their lives in a variety of settings - anywhere from hospitals to nursing homes.

6. Operation Gratitude
For the many, that may not get to be with their families at this time of year, support this great cause that creatively shows gratitude to our military personnel. They send care packages to soldiers and request help with the contents, like writing a letter thanking a solider for their service (they need 5 letters per box) or making a parachute bracelet and while it looks nice, it can also be utilized in an emergency for various purposes. Just a few of the many ways to help those sacrificing so much!

For my fellow techies...

7. Raspberry Pi
I'm a little behind on the trend of this sweetly named, little micro computer, but I finally got one this year and can't wait to start creating and coding. While programmers have been using it to build all sorts of custom games and robotics, some have come up with some pretty amazing ways to do good. The company blog features stories of developers and their creations using the Raspberry Pi and many of them have a charitable slant.

8. Donate your coding skills
There are many ways to share your techie skills. Help improve our government's technology by joining the Code for America program. Ladies you can donate your knowledge to the many organizations (Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, etc.) that are teaching women (young and old) to code and providing more opportunities in a great field still mainly represented by men.

If you do decide to go the traditional way and send in a financial contribution, be sure to check if your company has a matching gift program and you can double your impact!

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