20 ways to better your community in 30 minutes or less

20 Ways to Better Your Community (In 30 Minutes or Less)3
By: Darci Maxwell

It seems that none of us have much time to make our communities a better place with the pressures of work, family, school, etc. But there are ways to get involved in your community quickly and effectively. Each of the tasks below takes thirty minutes or less to complete, so what are you waiting for? Make your community better today!

Clean Up
Bring a trash bag next time you go for a walk in your neighborhood. Throw anything away that you might see: wrappers, papers, bottles, etc. Make sure that you don’t litter yourself when you are out and about.


Be green and recycle! You cannot recycle too much. As this site says “More Recycling is better recycling.” If your community does not have a recycling program, find a way to take your plastic, paper, and glass to a local collections facility.


Save Water and Energy
Help the environment by saving water and energy. Turn off lights when you leave a room, turn off the sink when you are brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, and unplug your electronics when you are not using them. You’ll save a little bit on your utilities as well.


Use Public Transit
Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transportation whenever possible. Find other ways to cut back on your automobile use by biking or walking to nearby places.


Shop Local
Instead of buying goods or services online or at a chain store, go into a local mom and pop store. Your purchase will go directly to helping your community. They often are closer than large stores anyway.


Pay For Someone’s Meal
As you are going through the drive through, tell the person at the window that you would like to pick up the tab of the next person in line. It is a kind gesture that will bring a smile to anyone’s face.


Donate $1
Local grocery stores are constantly running small donation campaigns. You can donate as little as $1 to local charities, including hospitals, boys and girls clubs, make a wish, etc. By saying “Yes” the next time that you are asked “Would you like to donate $1 today to our partner charity?” you are making your community just a little brighter.


Donate Used Books
If you have books around your house that you don’t read any more, consider donating them to a local school, especially if they are child-friendly. Teachers are always looking for inexpensive ways to expand their libraries.


Donate Blood
About 38% of Americans can donate blood, but only 8% do. Take some time to save lives by donating a pint of blood. The actual donation takes about ten minutes, but they do prep you before hand, and that whole process takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.


Offer Free Tutoring
Offer your skills to the community by offering free tutoring to schools. Depending on your skill level, you can volunteer in an elementary school, middle school, high school, or even at the local college.


Attend Events
There are many free events happening every day in your community. Go to them. Sponsors and corporations look at the attendance to see if it is worth hosting the event in the future, so your attendance can help make similar events happen. If there is a small entrance fee, it probably goes to hosting the event or will be donated to a local nonprofit.


Get to Know Your Neighbors
Go knock on your neighbor’s door and introduce yourself. Be friendly, and do your best to be a good neighbor. Who knows? You may end up making a life long friend.


Offer to Help
If you see an elderly woman trying to lift groceries into her car, or a neighbor shoveling their driveway, offer to help. You may get turned down, but then again, you may not.


Leave Anonymous Notes
If you’re more of the private type, leave anonymous notes in your community to brighten someone’s day. Too many people leave anonymous hate quotes, so leave an anonymous note of kindness instead. Put a thank you card in your neighbor’s mailbox, leave little notes in books at the library, or place a note on someone’s car in a parking lot. If you are feeling especially generous, leave a gift card with your note.


Attend a Fun Run
There are many different organizations that host 5k races during the spring and summer to raise money for one thing or another. There may be a group raising money for someone’s hospital bill, a local high school raising money for their sports teams, or even a local charity raising money for research. Give yourself an excuse to get back into shape by helping someone in need.


Set a Curfew
If you have teenage kids, setting a curfew can help keep them safe, set boundaries, and give their lives structure. Just make sure that your curfew is reasonable. Every city has a different curfew for teens, so use their curfew to teach them about being a good citizen. According to this blog, it is a good idea to set a curfew for teens, even if they are “good” teens, as it can give them a way out of uncomfortable social situations.


Sign a Petition
Find an online petition for a cause that you support. Add your name to the list. Change.org is a good place to start.


Write Letters to Leaders
Write letters to your governor or congressman to let them know your opinion on a certain subject. Leaders are supposed to vote based on what their community thinks, so make sure that you allow them to make informed decisions!


Call the Police
If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, report it. They may be able to stop a crime before it happens. The sooner you report it, the sooner they can take care of the problem. If you live in a sketchy part of town, here are some tips and tricks to help you stay safe.


Did you know that only 42-60% of people eligible to vote cast their ballots? Take a few minutes this November, and every November to vote in your local city and state. If you can, take the time to understand the issues and candidates so that you can make a more educated choice.

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