6 Small Ways To Be A Better Person In 2017
With December quickly flying by, it’s time to start thinking about 2017 and the resolutions you’ll set to guide your actions for the year. If you’re planning to tally up some good karma points next year by being more altruistic, there’s no need to wait until after the fireworks.
The festive season is the perfect time to start working on becoming more active in your community and meet your goals of giving back. While many charities appeal for donations at this time of year (here’s a list to help with that), there are plenty of ways you can get in on the action even if you don’t have a cent to spare.
#1 Be generous with your time
Volunteering to help administrate a charity or community organisation, run activities or collect donations is a valuable way to assist the wider community. Many charities across the country require more assistance during the end of the year as they organise festive events, cope with warm summer temperatures and benefit from increased donations.
Spread some Christmas cheer by volunteering as a Gift Wrapper for MS Australia or supporting The Exodus Foundation in providing Christmas celebrations for the homeless. Sign up for a longer volunteer engagement and become one of The Pyjama Foundation’s Pyjama Angels or find out how to volunteer for the SES in your state.
#2 Share your skills
You might not have a lot of spare money to donate, but your skills can be just as valuable as cash.
If you’ve got a deft hand in the kitchen, jump on board as a cook for Fare Share or Meals On Wheels. Those with green thumbs can help out with Easy Care Gardening or by signing up to work in a local community garden. Sitting on the board of a non-profit presents the opportunity to share your skills and expertise while enhancing your own resume and professional network.
#3 Give up some space
Many community and charity organisations don’t reside in physical locations and need volunteer storage space for the necessary equipment and paperwork they collect. If you’ve got a spare cupboard or empty gardening shed gathering cobwebs, look at offering this space as storage for an organisation in need.
Have a backyard that serves as nothing more than a cause for arguments about who’ll mow the knee-high grass? Why not turn it into a community farm?
#4 Donate your extra stuff
It might be December, but it’s never too late for a good spring clean. Make like Marie Kondo and sort out the stuff you need and love from the stuff you don’t like anymore, don’t use or completely forgot you had, then donate that excess baggage! Get down to your local Vinnies, Lifeline or charity swap and give what you don’t want to someone who needs it. They’ll thank you, and so will your future self next time you move house.
#5 Raise your voice
From surprising election results to moving citizen journalism, 2016 has demonstrated the power of individual voices.
Use your voice to make a change in the world. Sign a petition, write a letter to a politician or join in a march. Make protest art, write an article or schedule some time to have a serious chat with friends and family about the values you believe in and the issues you care about. Standing up for what you believe in can be powerful in contexts both public and private.
#6 Donate your blood and sign up as an organ donor
If you’re eligible, donating blood is a quick and easy way to literally save someone’s life. Find out when a donation van is next in your area or book an appointment and mark your calendar on the days that you will donate throughout 2017.
If you’re not already a registered organ donor, take some time to decide if it’s something you would like to do. Find out more through the Donate Life website, chat with your family about your wishes and if you decide to become a possible future donor, join the Australian Organ Donor Register. You can sign up online or by paper form.
Becoming a “better person” can be so much more than a quick cash donation (though splash that spare cash around if you have it!) Don’t wait for an arbitrary date to start making a difference in your community, commit now and see how quickly your good deeds can make an impact.
Lauren Sherritt is a playwright and freelance writer based in Brisbane. Lauren’s work has been featured online at Junkee, The Financial Diet, Birdee, LifeMusicMedia, lip magazine and Australian Stage.