Want to help others but short of hard currency? Live for Less contributor Nicole Lutze has come up with 10 great ways to get out and help others as an alternative to donating.
Most of us want to help in some way to make a difference in our community. A common misconception, however, is that to help we must have either ample cash or a lot of free time, and not many households have either in surplus. Good news: there are many ways to help out around Brisbane without making donations or committing all your spare hours, while still making a significant contribution.
Become a blood donor
Donating blood is hands-down the quickest, easiest and most significant way you can help a fellow Aussie. One in three Australians will need blood or blood products in their lifetime and a sole donation will occupy only one hour of your time, yet has the potential to save three lives. One hour, one donation, and you’ll walk away with some seriously good karma. Find out how to become a Red Cross blood donor here.
Make your pooch a Story Dog
If you have a friendly well-behaved dog that interacts well with children, join the Story Dogs program and help improve children’s literacy. Story dogs visit a school on the same day, and same time each week, for approximately two-hours. The dogs, and their owner, participate in a one-on-one reading session with a child, in which the student gets to practise their reading skills in a friendly, relaxed and non-judgemental environment. The benefits for children can be life-changing, improving their confidence and self-esteem as well as their literacy capabilities. For more information download an information pack here.
Spend some time with an Old Mate
What if I said you could spend one hour a month watching a movie, fishing, hiking, playing a game or drinking coffee and still be helping someone out? Take the #OLDMATE pledge to spend one hour a month for a whole year with an elderly Australian male, you can improve their self-esteem, mental health, social isolation and help to reduce the rate of male suicides in Australia. Currently Australian men aged 85+ commit suicide at twice the national average. Yes, twice. By reaching out and hanging out, you can help reduce this rate and potentially make a good friendship in the process.
Share the dignity with homeless women
Technically not a cash donation, though it will cost you a small fee, consider contributing a box of tampons or pads to Share the Dignity this August, and help out homeless women in need. Of Australia’s homeless, 44% are female, and a sanitary product donation means a woman doesn’t need to choose between food and dignity. If you’re a professional and want to provide your skills instead, check out the volunteering opportunities.
Walk an RSPCA dog
Everyone knows walking is good for your health, so combine your fitness aspirations with your desire to do good, by becoming a volunteer dog walker for the RSPCA Queensland. Dog walkers are required to fill either a morning or afternoon time slots, and the RSPCA ask for a minimum commitment of one shift per week for three months. Search volunteering opportunities here.
Volunteer your green thumb
If you’re a daft hand in the garden and know your Calla Lily from Canna Lily, volunteer in a community nursery and put your green thumb to good use. Contact the Brisbane Catchments Network for nursery volunteering opportunities near you.
Serve up supper
Every Saturday, Sunday and Monday evening between 6:30 and 9pm, Vital Connection dishes up a total of 15,000 three-course meals to the homeless and needy in Brisbane’s CBD. Not only do they supply a delicious dinner but they also offer a friendly ear and conversation. Volunteers are needed to help set up tables and chairs, loads vans, and also serve food. More information is available here.
Help from home
Ideal for those with limited transport options who still want to help out Australian youth, consider becoming an e-mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The not-for-profit helps tens of thousands of young Australians by connecting them with a safe and reliable adult who can provide positive and supportive friendships and guidance. Young people involved in the program gain improved self-worth resulting in improved school attendance, better family and community relationships, and greater employment opportunities.
Donate your corporate wear
To all the ladies with bulging work wardrobes not being worn: consider donating your unwanted corporate wear to Dress for Success Brisbane. Dress for Success empowers vulnerable women to break the cycle of poverty by supporting them to secure employment by supplying them with clothing suitable for a job interview. Donations must be good quality and ready to be worn immediately.