Back-to-school is an expensive time in many households. Vacation bills are coming in. Gas and dairy prices are sky-high. Money is tight everywhere. But that’s the very reason why this can be an especially hard time for charities. Not only do they get less in donations when money is tight, they often receive more requests for help.
This week’s TT includes easy, inexpensive ways to pitch in and help your neighborhood and world. None of them will put a dent in your budget, but any one of them can make a difference to causes that matter to you – and making a difference is always a great way to brighten your day.
This list is by no means exhaustive. But hopefully it will spur some thought and inspire a little action. If we all do a bit more, we can make a big difference.
1. Goodwill. Soon it will be time to put the shorts and t-shirts away and get reacquainted with sweaters and coats. As you make the big seasonal switch, take a good look at what you’re unpacking. If you can part with any of it, why not consider Goodwill? www.goodwill.org
2. Operation Shoebox. This wonderful organization is dedicated to helping our soldiers overseas feel a bit closer to home with shoeboxes filled with comforts. I send condiment packets – catsup, mustard, relish – because I eat so much take-out. But there are tons of other things they need, too, and like the condiment packets, they’re things you may already have. All you need to invest in is a padded envelope and postage. www.operationshoebox.com
3. The Animal Rescue Site. This sounds almost too good to be true, but with a simple click you can help feed homeless animals in shelters all over the country. Go to www.theanimalrescuesite.com and look for the big purple button.
4. The Literacy Site. Still got a little energy left in your clicking finger? Then go to the Literacy Site tab at www.theanimalrescuesite.com and help a child get a book or his or her own. I promise, it costs you nothing. But, since these sites are sponsored by the companies you see when you click, it would be helpful in the long run if you stop and take a look at their ads. The Animal Rescue Site also has links to charities that support causes including breast cancer research, conservation, children’s health and feeding the hungry.
5. Goodsearch.com. This search engine is a joint venture of ABC News and Yahoo! Go there when you’re investigating something online, choose a charity that you want to benefit (I always pick the ASPCA), and search merrily away, knowing you’ve helped.
6. America’s Second Harvest Food Bank locator. Whenever I go to the store, I pick up something that costs less than $1 and put it aside for my local food pantry. (This includes drugstores; after all, CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens all sell Gerber baby foods for less than $1.) I find that every month I have accumulated a full bag of groceries to donate, without making a negligible difference to my food budget. My church supports our food pantry, but if you don’t where the food bank is in your neighborhood, visit http://www.secondharvest.org/zip_code.jsp
7. Network for Good. Perhaps you’d rather donate time than money, but you’re not sure how or where to start. That’s where the Network for Good comes in. They’ll be happy to match you with a charity in your neighborhood. www.networkforgood.org/volunteer
8. Petfinder.com. If you’re like me, and animals have a special place in your heart, visit Petfinder.com. They offer many innovative ways to help – from signing up to volunteer at a local animal shelter or widgets you can ad to your blog to help raise money for, and awareness of, homeless animals.
9. Labels for Education. Campbell’s will provide free educational equipment to schools in exchange for proofs of purchase from their brands. www.labelsforeducation.com
10. Just Give. Do you have do-gooder friends with birthdays or anniversaries coming up? Visit www.justgive.org and instead of a gift, order a Just Give gift certificate. Then your friend can redeem it as a contribution to the charity of his or her choice.
11. iGive. Shop online through the iGive.com portal, and a portion of your purchase will go to the not-for-profit of your choice. I’ve used this site to order through Drugstore.com, Overstock.com, and Sephora and have raised more than $50 for the local shelter where I got my skinny beige tomcat/wildman, Reynaldo.
12. Target RedCard. Shop as you normally would, but pay with your Target Store Card or Target Visa and Target will donate a portion of the purchase to the school you choose. www.target.com/tcoe
13. Ask about the Matching Gift Program where you work. I’m amazed when I hear that a corporation has money left in their Matching Gift Program at the end of the year. If your company offers to match qualifying contributions, it just makes sense to take advantage of it … even if the paperwork is a pain.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Toni's TT is all about the Discovery Channel's Mike Rowe
2. Suprina celebrates her beautiful daughter's birthday
3. Nicholas tells us what not to do when visiting the UK
4. Jill is a West of Mars Groupie who tells us all about Dave from ShapeShifter
5. Thomma Lyn takes a closer look at ShapeShifter, too, but through Lana's eyes
6. Malcolm's TT is about movies that were unwisely turned into TV shows
7. Cupcake, a dedicated teacher, hopes we consider Communities in Schools when we give
8. Damozel has a great TT about our tax dollars, and where they go.
9. Comedy Plus helps us speak (and laugh) in British
10. Lori's TT is a must-read/must-heed for parents of teens
11. Wacky Mommy takes us along on a dining tour of The West
12. Jenny McB invites us to see and smell the world of back-to-school
13. Parent and teacher Bob looks at the back-to-school supply list
14. L^2 shows us how her gorgeous pups respond to that famous rock band, Shapeshifter
15. Kat tells us what she wants to do before turning 30
16. Marina shares one of the most awesome TBR lists I've ever seen!
17. Harlekwin takes her camera, and us, on an overnight trip to Oregon
18. Rush on over to qtpies and see if you can win her TT Blogaversary Contest
19. Wendy invites us over, and gives us 13 reasons to come back
20. Tinkerbell celebrates all that is little Maia
21. Mo has a thought-provoking, musical TT
22. Norma shares her summer of 07 memories
23. 30Plus Teacher has interesting/shocking facts about reading
24. Sparky Duck has a photographic TT about the beautiful state of Arizona
25. J Lynne is a big believer
26. Check out 13 different moods and views of Miss Wisabus
27. Gabriella's TT is about her upcoming book … and it's audience participation!
28. Kendra's TT is about what NOT to feed your dog. Very important!
29. Erin shares words that are just FUN.
30. Joy dreams of traveling to these 13 places
31. Lori's Light Extemporanea lists her impressive, albeit not terribly glamorous, talents
32. Elisa shares some 13 books that became movies
33. Mama Lee has some terrific back-to-school GAP commercials
34. Judy Callerman warns us off these 13 cliches
35. See how Callista kept herself occupied while locked in her daughter's room
36. Natalie's happy TT is here
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