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Giving Back

The concept of giving back has been embedded in my DNA for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching my parents: Whether they were assisting family members who needed jobs or nursing injured birds back to health, they made helping others a priority. Perhaps I feel compelled to give back because I’ve heard my parents’ stories about being child survivors of the Holocaust, and it’s made me want to help people in whatever way I can. Regardless, I began giving back at a young age. I gave away clothes that I had grown out of. I gave my Trick-or-Treat collection box to UNICEF the day after Halloween. And, taking after my parents, I gave stray cats in my neighborhood a home—even if it was a fort I built for them in my backyard. I remain an animal lover to this day and my focus has been animal shelters as well as animal charities.

The fact that giving back intuitively feels good, is supported by an entire field of research in positive psychology, which affirms that helping people is one of the best ways to feel happiness, peace, joy, and wellness—a by-product of making a difference in the lives of others. 


Helping others doesn’t always have to involve money. In fact, here are several ways you can give back without spending a dime:

Donate:

  • Your time by volunteering at a hospital, soup kitchen, or any other local charity.
  • Your clothes to a local thrift shop.
  • Books to a bookstore.
  • Clean/unused pet supplies to an animal shelter.
  • Toys to a children’s charity.
  • Food to a homeless shelter.
  • Your hair to a charity that makes hairpieces for patients (if you’ve wanted to cut it for a while and are finally ready)!
  • Your blood to a local donation center.
  • Your skills. Are you a great painter? Find a school or community center with a room that needs a fresh paint job. Gather some friends, and get painting—whether it’s a solid color on the walls, or a mural.
  • Your expertise. A friend of mine is a personal shopper, and she found a silent auction in her town. She donated a day of her services, which involved taking the winner shopping for a new wardrobe. All of the proceeds went to charity.


The list can go on and on. The point is that there are so many ways to be charitable. I know from experience that the joy of giving back will not only stay with you forever, it will help you grow in ways you never imagined.

Below are some of the charities I donate to. I encourage everyone to explore different charities that matter to them, and the best ways they can give.