Welcome to February's Blog with Friends Round-up!! Every month, a group of bloggers comes together, chooses a topic, and then create unique posts based on that theme. The posts can include anything from recipes, short stories, poetry, lists, DIY projects, educational projects, lists, and anything in between. The sky is the limit. Every post is unique and different, but they are all united by the same theme. This month's theme is Snuggly and Warm.
I know, I have been talking a lot about paying it forward lately. I cannot help it. I just believe so strongly in it. I believe in it to my very core. I remember the very first time I had ever heard of the pay it forward concept. It was through the movie made about the concept. I had recently lost everything in a fire, and I was living in an empty apartment, with hardly any belongings in it. I had a friend loan me a tiny little TV, with a built in DVD player, and I found a few DVDs for $1 at the local Family Dollar. I watched the movies over and over. One of the movies, was "Pay It Forward". I happily watched it a hundred times.
That movie gave me just the spark I needed to help me get through the struggle of losing everything. I was already a fan of volunteering and doing good deeds. That movie helped me realize, that even at the lowest point of my life, when I literally had nothing of substance, I could still put good into the world. I could still pay forward all the blessings of my life, no matter how big or small. It was during that time in my life, that I embraced the concept of paying it forward, and I have truly lived life with that philosophy in the forefront of my actions.
No matter what is going on in your life. No matter how little you have, or how much you have, you can always pay it forward. Paying it forward, does not have to cost you a thing. The simple act of putting a smile on some one's face, by giving them a compliment, is paying it forward. It does not have to be complex. It can be simple. If you want, it can be complex. It is up to you. It is your act of paying it forward, and it can be done any way you choose.
When I first heard the theme of Snuggly and Warm, all I could think of was fireplaces, warm blankets, and hot cocoa. Well, I am a huge blanket lover, but I did not think you all would appreciate a list of my favorite blankets. As for hot cocoa, I don't have some super special recipe, so that was no help. I was truly at a loss, and then my friend mentioned spreading warmth in your community. That was what I needed to hear, and I knew the post I would write. As I plotted it all out, I realized that you may be tired of hearing about paying it forward from me. That being said, I cannot help myself. It truly is at my very core, and a major part of who I am. When I leave this Earth, I hope people remember that I was Gigi's mom and I loved her with all of my being, and that I was a huge promoter of paying it forward. It is very important, that we all leave this world better than we entered it, even if just in a tiny way.
So, one incredibly great way to pay it forward, is to spread warmth within your local community. It is great to make the world better, but one of the best places to start, is in the very community we live in. Every community is different, and needs different things, so you may need to research your own community, to find out its specific needs. However, I am hoping that I can give you some ideas, or some places to start. Hopefully, we can all spread the warmth of love in our communities.
1. Most communities have a Senior Center, where residents above a certain age (usually around 60), can go and socialize, and receive connections to resources they need. Most Senior Centers hold social events for all ages, and help the Seniors give back to their communities, by helping out with these events. I do know that many Senior Centers have limited budgets, and many hold fundraisers. So, you can reach out to your Senior Center and offer to help with fundraising events. You can also find out when the fundraisers are, and buy tickets. You will help the center raise funds, and you will get to enjoy a fun community event. You can also volunteer to be a buddy with a Senior. You can play cards or do crafts, or whatever fun events are available. Sometimes you can even help, by giving the Seniors rides to appointments or the grocery store. I often find that the wonderful conversations I have with the Seniors I help, are beyond payment enough for the time I end up investing. They have some of the best stories.
2. You can also find centers for the community's youth. Boys and Girl's Clubs, YMCAs, and other youth centers. Now, helping at these, understandably so, usually require you to get fingerprinted and go through a background check. It is actually an extremely easy process, so do not be deterred by it. If you are good at sports, you can definitely help with their sport activities. If you are great at art, you can help with art programs. If you would rather, most are always looking for tutors, to help the children with their school work. Help with fundraising is always a good thing, as many centers have limited budgets. There will definitely be plenty of ways for you to help, and make a difference in the lives of your community's youth.
3. A good place to go, is to your town's government hall, and ask what ways you can help out. Chances are they will have a huge list of ways you can help. From helping with festivals and events hosted by the town, to helping clean up community parks, to helping cover up graffiti, to helping hang fliers and signs advertising community events, and any number of other things.
4. Unfortunately, most communities have homeless residents who need help. You can easily help them, by bringing them non-perishable food items, blankets, batteries, warm socks, clothes, and various other items. I will never discourage people from helping homeless individuals. However, I will encourage you to speak with your town hall or local police station. Most communities have dedicated task forces, that work closely with the homeless population and organizations which help them. At times, helping those tasks forces and organizations directly, are actually more help to the homeless, than going to the individuals themselves.
5. Do you have a green thumb? Do you love gardening? Helping out with your community's garden(s), or even starting one, would be an excellent way to spread warmth! Even if your thumb isn't very green, but you can pull weeds, that would be a massive help.
6. Donating toys to community programs at the holidays, or hosting toy drives, is a huge way to help spread warmth. Toys at the holidays are a huge need in most communities. I just want to remind you, that there is also a need for school supplies and backpacks, during the Summer. Many organizations distribute the school supplies to children in need before school starts. Clothes are also a huge help. You can reach out to your local schools, town hall, or Foster Care agencies. They should be able to direct you to organizations that can give you information on drives for toys, school supplies, clothes, and other needed items. Churches are also a great resource for finding out where and when to give.
7. If you have a large family, a large group of tight knit friends, a large group of coworkers, or a large church community, a great way for you to all give back together, is to join the Adopt a Highway program, and help keep a local stretch of road clean. It is a very simple way to give back, that makes a huge impact.
8. Many local little league and sport leagues, are always looking for volunteers and helpers. If you love sports, this would be an excellent way for you to help in your community. Just contact your local league, and they can get you all set up to help out! If you are great with sports, but you still want to help, I am sure donations would also be greatly appreciated.
9. I cannot tell you the number of times, I hear people saying they want to do something, but do not know what to do. So, if you are really into something, start a local group. Maybe start a book club. You can ask at a local coffee shop or your library, and see if they would be willing to let you have monthly meetings of a book club, if you start one. Maybe you would rather start a quilting group? Crochet or knitting group? Poetry Club? Writing Club? Art club? Rock painting club?! What is your passion?! Start a group, and share that passion with others, who have the same passion, or are interested in learning about it. Maybe even just start a board game club. The limits are endless. I am sure you can find a library or coffee shop or some other place, that would be willing to let you host monthly meetings.
10. Are you a musician?! Play the guitar? Drums? Flute? Some other awesome instrument? Many kids would love to take music lessons, but simply cannot afford them. If you speak with your local youth organizations, library, town government, you could most likely set it up, so you can give free or extremely low cost lessons. You could probably find other musicians willing to join you.
Really, there are just so many ways you can spread the warmth of love throughout your community. Any small act of kindness, can have a huge impact. So, just get out there and do it. Just put goodness out into your community, and know that it will spread. I hope you have an amazing time spreading warmth in your community.
Do not forget to check out the other Snuggly and Warm posts from this month!! See how the other bloggers translated the topic into posts of their own!! I will meet you there. I just need to get some more coffee. My Lupus has had me sleeping far too much lately. I am depending on coffee and determination to get through this upcoming week. I hope you all have a fabulous week!! If you are being hit by these freezing temperatures, I hope you stay snuggly and warm!!
Links to February's other Snuggly and Warm Round-up Posts:
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