As the temperatures (finally!) start to turn more autumnal, many of us have switched up our routines, our wardrobes, and our day-to-day activities. We’re back to school, back from vacation, and back to facing an onslaught of politics and pumpkin spice.
(Please, God, deliver us from pumpkin spice.)
If you would like to get involved in giving back – either through volunteering or donating funds – now is a great time to reflect upon what your community needs and how you most want to connect. For example:
It’s high season for college sports! If you gleefully spend your weekends watching your alma mater hit the gridiron, maybe it’s time to think about a financial contribution to your college, or to any school. You can give to your college’s general fund, or perhaps something more specialized – like a contribution to an arts program or scholarships – would be more your speed.
While the dip in temperatures may be refreshing for you, that’s not the case for everyone. Cooler days and cold nights are tough on those who do not have a appropriate housing, warm clothes, or a hot meal. Now is a great time to turn your attention to local agencies serving the homeless, housing insecure, or food insecure. Can you give them a few dollars, a few hours of your time, or a few bags of gently worn, warm clothing?
If you love to hit the local park to check out the autumn leaves in all of their multicolored glory, think about making a donation to, or volunteering at, that park. Or, better yet, join in the year-long National Park Service centennial celebrations and make a donation to your favorite national park.
Does back-to-school time evoke memories of sharpened pencils, full backpacks, and bus stop antics? For some kids, back-to-school time can be a struggle. There are kids that don’t have anyone to help them with their homework, don’t have the appropriate school supplies or clothes, or would just love someone to read with them. Contact your local school, school district, or youth serving organization (like Boys & Girls Clubs or YMCA) to find ways to help every kid in your community have a stellar school year.
It’s harvest time! If you live near a farm (you would be surprised – even the suburbs have farms nearby), you could participate in a gleaning project to help bring food to those in need. The US Department of Agriculture says that “Gleaning is simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.” Gleaning is a great project to do with family and friends. You can find some USDA resources on gleaning here.
Enjoy the crisp weather, a cup of hot apple cider, and the falling leaves… and think about ways to make autumn a season of giving.