Donating Yourself

Times are tough and there’s so much need out there that it can be overwhelming. But it’s understandable when people can’t make financial donations. I for one am struggling to make ends meet. But there are so many other ways to help.

Here are some ways you can give of yourself, show the world how wonderful you are, and improve the lives of others without spending a dime, and if you need added incentive, in many cases you can write these donations off on your taxes.

  • Become a marrow donor. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 44, a simple cheek swab will get you registered, and if you become a match it could save someone’s life. Go here to order a registration kit.
  • Become a cord blood donor. Are you pregnant? Donating your baby’s cord blood after birth does not put you or your child at risk and could save someone’s life. Talk to your doctor and find out if your hospital participates in this program before your child is born. For more information, go here.
  • Donate your used clothing and furniture. It breaks my heart to see useable items on the curb on trash day when there are so many organizations who would be happy to take them off your hands. Many will even come and pick it up from you.
  • Donate your used car. There are a lot of organizations that will take your used car. Here’s a site that can connect you to various charitable organizations, but personally, I plan to donate my car to National Public Radio when the time comes.
  • Volunteer. Many organizations in your community could use your help. Here’s a website that can help you find those opportunities.
  • Give someone a micro-loan. I can’t say enough about Kiva.org. In a nutshell, loan 25 dollars, change someone’s life, get paid back, and hopefully do it again. What have you got to lose? Not one single penny, that’s what.
  • Help a neighbor. If you have a neighbor who is sick or elderly or disabled or a single parent, they could no doubt use your help. Whether it’s shoveling snow, running an errand, doing home repair or mowing the lawn, there are any number of things you could do to make their lives easier.
  • Donate blood. Another free opportunity to save a life! Imagine that. Go here to find the blood bank nearest you.
  • Freecycle. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Rather than filling the landfill with your perfectly usable but no longer wanted items, advertise them here on your local freecycle network. This is a great way to pick up things that other people are giving away as well!
  • Spread the word. Do you know of a way for people to save money or live healthier or safer lives? Don’t keep this information to yourself. Share it. Facebook it. Tweet it. Whatever it takes to share this with others. Knowledge is power.
  • Donate your hair. Planning to cut more than 10 inches of your hair off? Don’t let it go to waste! There are organizations that will make wigs for people who have cancer or alopecia. I don’t want to give any one organization special treatment, so simply google “hair donation” and choose the one you like best.
  • Listen. Sometimes all someone needs to turn their day around is someone willing to listen to them. Really hear them. That’s a skill. Please practice it.
  • Participate in Neighborhood Watch. Help keep your neighborhood safe the RIGHT way, with an organization that does not advocate vigilante behavior. Google Neighborhood Watch to learn more.
  • Be a mentor. Share your knowledge and expertise with someone who would benefit from it. Learn more about this here.
  • Recycle. Think of this as volunteering for the planet.
  • Report abuse and other crimes when you see them. If you witness domestic violence or any other crime, speak up. That’s the only way you’ll prevent its recurrence. This is a way of doing a good turn for a future victim. Simply dial 911, or if you are outside of the United States, find out your emergency number and keep it handy.
  • Be an organ donor. Sign up to become an organ donor in your state’s organ donor registry and you will not have died in vain. For more information, go here. Also, be sure to share your wishes with your loved ones so that there’s no conflict or confusion when the time comes.

There are so many ways to make a difference in this world, and you don’t have to spend any money doing so. If you can think of any other ways that I may have overlooked, please add them to the comments section. I do 13 of the things mentioned above, but doing even one will make the world a better place. Join me, won’t you?

volunteer

Remember when you were young and willing? It’s never too late.

[Image Credit: astdtn.org]

George Zimmerman Goes Free: It’s a Florida Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand.

George Zimmerman was found not guilty on Saturday. To be honest I was expecting riots in the streets. I wouldn’t blame them. I was outraged, too. As a Floridian I am embarrassed for my state. Yet again. It happens with annoying frequency.

  • I was also mortified when Florida helped “elect” George Bush. We are the land of the hanging chad and the 5 hour voting lines, where no one can be certain that his vote actually counts.
  • I was appalled when Elian Gonzalez was taken from Cuba without his father’s consent, and we were actually harboring the child instead of returning him to his only surviving parent, simply because we disagree with Cuba’s politics and didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of every Cuban exile in Miami.
  • I was disgusted when our state legislature got involved in a husband’s right to pull the plug on Terri Schiavo, his wife, who had been, effectively, a vegetable for quite some time.
  •  We also allow “Choose Life” license plates, but will not allow “Pro Choice” ones, even though that is the law of the land.
  • And teachers cannot legally mention the word “condom” in our public schools, but that couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact only 11 other states in the nation have a higher teen pregnancy rate, now could it? We also have the second highest AIDS rate in the nation.

I weep for this state.

But back to Zimmerman for a moment. People are assuming that all whites are on Zimmerman’s side. On the contrary, I think the side you’re on is more a matter of where you stand on gun control. Make no mistake: Zimmerman claimed self-defense, even though he started the incident by being on the offense. And for some reason the jury bought it, which means that Zimmerman was allowed to hunt Trayvon Martin down and shoot him like a dog. All he had to do was claim that he feared for his life.

Well, knowing that maverick cop-wannabes are allowed to roam the streets makes me fear for my life, too, Mr. Zimmerman. But don’t worry. I’m not going to assassinate you in spite of the fact that the law would apparently be on my side.

We will never know exactly what happened that night, but here’s what I will never be able to get past: When Zimmerman called 911 they told him to stop following the kid. Twice. They told him twice and he ignored them twice. If he had listened to the professionals as he should have, things would not have gotten out of control. Twice.

If I were the 911 Operator, maybe I’d have been a little more succinct. “You did your good deed, Mr. Zimmerman. You were a good little neighborhood watch person and called in the suspicious black guy to the police. Now kindly stop being a vigilante hunter who is out for blood and a reputation, and get your putrid butt back home.”  But no. He continued to follow that young man and got the beat down he deserved for doing so, and THAT is when he felt threatened. THAT is when he shot him. He brought it on himself.

And kindly stop talking about how Trayvon was no angel, will you please? That’s immaterial. I don’t care if he was Idi Amin. He was somebody’s kid. He was minding his own business, trying to go home, and didn’t deserve to be slaughtered for his trouble.

Zimmerman stood his ground, all right. Only it never should have been his ground to stand on in the first place.

Trayvon