I don't know about you, but when I read books or hear stories about people who have done great things for God, I'm incredibly impressed, but at the same time, I start listing in my head all the reasons why I CAN'T do what they did. I'm talking about people who have up and moved to foreign countries to do mission work or started their own non-profits from scratch or people like the girl who wrote Kisses from Katie. It can feel overwhelming to some of us--I'm not in a place in my life to start a nonprofit, and most of us have job, family, and/ or financial/ debt responsibilities that keep us fairly grounded in our day-to-day lives and can keep us from pursuing huge, bold steps of faith--leaving us to find small ways to make a difference in our lives day-to-day. Yet sometimes the small things are not so small.
I've pulled together this list for you all in the hope that it will inspire you--yes, YOU--to make your corner of the world a better place and touch it with the light of Christ. Although some of the items on this list do require a lot of time, money, and planning (like 22 and 23), most of them don't. You can do a lot of these things right now--for example, 6, 8, 17, and 28. Some of them without even leaving your computer, in fact. So here's the list. And I will definitely be adding to it as I get more ideas.
1) Sponsor a child through World Vision or, if you already do, become a child ambassador to help more children get connected with sponsors.
2) Be a microphilanthropist, which basically involves donating the price of your morning latte or some other small expense to a good cause each day, like this guy.
3) Participate in Operation Christmas Child.
4) Do something you already probably like--shopping online--for a good cause by using Amazon Smile, where Amazon automatically donates a percentage of each purchase to the charity of your choice.
5) Next time you're at Walmart, get some extra deodorant and shampoo and socks and donate it to your local rescue mission or homeless shelter.
6) Send someone a text message that says you're thinking about them or praying for them--in my experience, these can totally make a day.
7) Invite people over to your house for dinner. You don't even have to be able to cook. You can connect with people and minister to them just as well over pizza delivery as a gourmet meal.
8) Do a beginning-of-the-year home cleanout and donate unused clothes, shoes, jackets, canned goods, etc. to the food pantry/ thrift store/ Goodwill.
9) Donate blood.
10) Celebrate 100% tip day and tip an unsuspecting waiter or waitress the full cost of your meal.
11) Connect with old teachers and thank them for the difference they have made in your life.
12) Visit residents in a nursing home.
13) Get a haircut and donate to Locks of Love, which provides wigs to kids with medical conditions that have made them lose their hair.
14) Write a handwritten letter to an old friend.
15) Go on a short-term mission trip.
16) Call your parents, grandparents, or other important people in your life.
17) Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you.
18) Send thank-you notes.
19) Write cards or put together care packages for the troops overseas.
20) Volunteer at an adoption agency or crisis pregnancy center.
21) Volunteer at a soup kitchen or community food bank.
22) Go on the World Race mission trip or support someone else who's going.
23) Explore the option of being a foster parent.
24) Send thank-you notes to people who have positively impacted your life.
25) Run a race for a good cause, like Race for the Cure or myriad other races of varying distances that support local non-profits.
26) Pray for the nations of the world. One way to systematically do this is with Operation World, which can help you be aware of prayer needs in countries you never even hear about, like Togo or Tajikistan.
27) Get connected with local volunteering opportunities through Volunteer Match.
28) Commit to only putting kind, encouraging things on the Internet . . . Twitter updates, Facebook statuses, blog posts, comments on other's articles, encouraging emails, etc.
28) Check out Freerice.com. If you like trivia games, this site is for you. Basically you can play vocabulary games for free, and grains of rice get donated to needy areas for every correct answer you give.
29) Make a different to-do list for your day or week: not all the errands you need to run or chapters you need to read, but people you can help, causes you can support, and little things you can do to show the love of Christ around you.
30) Deliver on all the commitments you've already made to help the people closest to you. We often get so caught up in helping "the community" or "the world" that we forget that there are people in our everyday lives that we've told we would help with one thing or another. For example, I told N. awhile back that I would help him with cover letters and J. that I would help her with Moot Court, but I haven't done those things yet, and I need to. Today.
If you have other ideas, let me know in the comments!