Joy is bringing you some of our smartest, most financially savvy content for the past year. In the crazy-busy lead-up to the holidays, it’s important to remember that making time for your happiness can make your life richer — as well as your wallet.
Volunteering is important, life-changing, and research shows that it might even keep you alive longer. You get that and you’ve been meaning to do it, but you’re also probably pretty freaking busy already–and when you do find a few minutes of free time, you just want to relax with your favorite shows or a hobby. But volunteering can be easy and fun! Seriously! Not only is giving back good for you, but it can also be a great way to fill your day with joy. These fun, easy ways to donate your time and energy will help those in need, and give you a boost, too.
Throw an amazing party
Thousands of women and men put themselves on the line in service of our country. That’s huge, and it deserves major recognition. A good (and fun!) way to do that: Organize a collection drive via Operation Gratitude! You can collect candy, games, and even everyday necessities that would brighten a deployed service member’s day. Rallying your own troops—a.k.a. the people in your community—is a simple, rewarding, and fun way to connect with those you love. Turn the event into a “support the troops” party: make some snacks, mix up some cocktails, and have your friends pack and decorate boxes for our service men and women. You can find more details here, including where to send the collected goods.
Get a makeover
Are you ready for a major chop? Cut off those unwieldy tresses and donate the hair to Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids. These organizations support kids suffering from hair loss (for example, due to an autoimmune disease or as the result of going through cancer treatment) by using those donated ponytails to make high-quality hairpieces for them. You’ll help out kids who really need it, and get a cute cut to brighten up your day, too.
Put your crafting skills to use
Whether you’re into knitting, sewing, or quilting, you can use your skills to make something warm and comfy for a kid in need. Create a snuggly masterpiece and then donate it to children in shelters, hospitals, social service agencies, or anywhere else they’re needed through organizations like Project Linus and Binky Patrol. It’s like donating a big hug, and it rules.
Use your talents for good
Not sure where you want to spend your limited volunteering hours? Well, cut out the commute and volunteer online! Check out the United Nations Volunteers website, where you can specify your interests and find the perfect fit. There are opportunities for writers, artists, community organizers, accountants, stay at home parents, and more! Choose an opportunity that sounds fun to you — I personally get a kick out of helping kids with their college application essays, so that’s something I jumped on. Plus, volunteering from the comfort of your couch is always good times. (To read more about online mentoring, check out one person’s experience doing it.)
Be someone’s eyes
Help no- and low-vision people by reading to them or helping them do simple tasks. This is educational and fun for both parties! Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted people who can help them read things, distinguish colors, etc. I do it and it’s addictive and fun — it’s almost like a game because you get to “play” it on your phone, except you’re actually helping people.
Help beautify the world
You can help test and evaluate the National Park Service’s online presence, and make the experience better for users, which these precious resources thrive. Then you can take a trip to a National Park and marvel in the fact that you’re part of beautifying America!