Giving Back & Paying It Forward

One thing that is very important to me is giving back. I grew up volunteering at nursing homes playing the piano and talking to residents that didn’t ever get visits from family. I went to soup kitchens and sat down with the homeless and had a conversation with them after I got done serving. I helped with projects within my community and went to another country to help renovate a school. All of this in my teens. I share this because as far as I look back across my life, giving back has been an important part of it. 

When I watch some of the most well-known professionals in their field give talks, one of the things they usually mention is giving. In fact some of the most successful people give- a lot. I don’t know where my journey in life will take me, but I know that my dream is big. If I achieve even a small part of it, it will be a rewarding accomplishment. Not just for me, but for my family, those who have supported me and the world around me. One of the things I have clear is that I have to give back now. I can’t wait until I reach my goals to give back. I could just wake up one day and decide to give back, but why would I deprive the world of the things I can do now?

I’m not in the position to give back financially to the degree that I would like, but who ever said giving was only financial? Money is just one way of giving back. By the time you’re done reading this, I hope I’ve encouraged you to find a way to include or increase the giving in your life. If you think you already give enough or you give too much, then I challenge you to work on receiving because you might not be doing that as much as you should.

Always give from your heart and receive gratefully.

I will include ideas that encompass time, service, and finances because I don’t know what works best for each of you. Ways that you can give back or pay it forward-

Time/Service

  • Volunteer at a nursing home- visit the elderly and ask the staff to pair you with someone that doesn’t receive regular visitors, hasn’t had a visitor in a while, or has recently experienced a loss.
  • Volunteer at an animal rescue or rehabilitation center- If animals melt your heart, why not give some love to one in need? There are plenty of places that could use the help of volunteers to walk and play with animals that would otherwise be alone until the staff is able to give them their allotted time.
  • Show your appreciation- bake some cookies for your local police department, Sherriff’s office, or fire department.
  • Bloggers- Even as bloggers we can pay it forward. Why not include a sample of your followers and those you follow on your sidebar? That connects the community and can help lift up your most loyal readers. Even leaving comments or visiting blogs with few followers make such a difference for that blogger!
  • Volunteer at your kid’s school- Parents of younger kids can often volunteer in their child’s classroom. You could volunteer to monitor lunch once a month. Contact the school and see where volunteers are most needed.
  • Business- If you own your own business, you could donate services, sponsor a community event, raise awareness for an issue facing your community, or start a donation (someone in need in your community, to give to a charity, etc.) 
  • Company- If you work for a company you could see what volunteer opportunities your company has. If they don’t already have one, maybe you can start one! You could get together with some coworkers on a weekend and clean up your community, make sandwiches for the homeless, or find a local organization in need of volunteers and go as a team.
  • Kids- help contribute to the generation coming up behind us. Volunteer for an organization that invests time in children. If you’re a parent, get local kids in your area together and invest some time in them. Host a pizza party just because, take them to a local area they love and take snacks and drinks, just do something fun to show them someone cares- not every child goes home to a kind and loving family but let them see it exists!
  • Parents- Do you know of a couple with kids that doesn’t have any family in town? Are you close enough with them to offer to care for their kids in their home or maybe meet them at a local park? You could give the parents the gift of alone time by offering to care for their kids while they go to a movie, go for a walk, or just enjoy a dinner together.

Money-

  • Pay for the person behind you- Apply some money towards the total of the person behind you at the grocery store, a restaurant, the gas station, etc. It doesn’t have to be much, give what you can. The fact that someone would think to do that will impact them.
  • Spare change- A great way to help is by leaving the coins when you pay at a store. At some point someone will be a few cents short and will have to put an item back. By leaving the coins, you might be able to help someone that has to make a tough call on what to leave behind even though they need it.
  • Caregivers- Go to a local hospital and see what you can do to help someone that is caring for a sick loved one. There are families with babies in ICU, partners that are sleep deprived looking after their love with a chronic or terminal illness, loved ones tending to the needs of a victim of an accident. Can you help by purchasing a meal so they can eat something other than the cafeteria food? Can you provide them with a gift certificate for a massage to use at a later time? Can you get basic groceries to make a meal without going to the store after being in the hospital for weeks? Ask the nurses to pick a family and find out what they could use the most.
  • Give monthly- Come up with an amount you can afford to give every month. You can send it to the same organization or you can be on the lookout for opportunities to give. You can give it to organizations that are helping your community, those contributing to global causes, someone you know in need, or give it anonymously. Please don’t worry about the amount. The amount you give isn’t sustaining the place you’re giving to but it is contributing!
  • Invest- Give back to your community! You can even do something like shopping local once a month. Go to a farmer’s market or a small locally operated business.

I hope you have found a way to regularly incorporate or increase giving back in your life whether it’s listed above or it’s sparked an idea. If you feel like you give enough or more than enough as it is, you might want to evaluate your receiving. Giving and receiving is a cycle. You should always be open to receiving because it’s keeping the cycle flowing smoothly. The more you have, the more you can give, but if you give without receiving you’re depleting your reserves. So be open to the opportunities that present themselves for you to receive time, service, and money in your life.

Remember, this isn’t limited to a certain time of year. This is something we can easily incorporate into our lives.  I love how the holidays remind us to do so and have us thinking of it globally but how amazing would it be to have that feeling and energy in the world daily?


What are your thoughts? Can you incorporate or increase giving back in your life? Feel free to share in the comments. 

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