January 2, 2020
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5 New Year’s resolutions to help you and your community

The gym is one thing. Why not make 2020 the year to exercise more kindness and flex your giving muscles?

Make 2020 the year of giving back. Photo by Unsplash/Andrea Davis

Happy New Year! While many people are hitting the gym, curbing their spending, or taking on a new hobby, there are ways for your resolution to benefit you, your loved ones, and the community at large.

1. Find the volunteering opportunity that’s perfect for you

Spending more time volunteering in the new year is an obvious resolution that will benefit others. But you will also receive a perk. A few hours each week is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety and provide an overall mood boost. There’s also evidence that volunteering more can benefit your career. Not sure where to start? Try using an app or website such as Golden Volunteer Opportunities or VolunteerMatch to find an organization that needs help and is the right fit for your skills.

2. Get more fresh air

Increased time spent outside can have mental and physical health benefits. While you’re enjoying the fresh air, help create and improve the green space in your neighborhood. Contribute to a community vegetable garden or even start your own! Straw bale gardening can make planting veggies more efficient and affordable. You could also help build new bike paths and walking trails in your area or organize a clean up day with friends and family to help spruce up a local park.

3. Shore up your donation strategy

Most nonprofits and charities receive the majority of their donations in November and December. Commit to giving throughout the year and you’ll have a major impact, especially when you find a local cause that speaks to you, like a food bank or homeless shelter in your neighborhood. Even committing a small dollar amount each month can make a big difference. You can also make donating funds completely effortless with an app such as Roundup. The app creates “spare change” by rounding up your debit and credit card purchases, then the rounded up change is donated to a nonprofit of your choice at the end of the month.

4. Read more books

Maybe you have a list of novels you’re hoping to read in 2020. While making your way through those mystery and romance paperbacks, you can help spread the joy of reading to others in your area. Donate books and other supplies to a local school. Teachers often list what books they need for their students each year using sites like DonorsChoose.org. Take a hands on approach and actually read to children in your community and sign up at your local library as a volunteer reader.

5. Exercise your kindness

Taking on this resolution will show that even the smallest acts can have a big impact. Whether you send a letter to an old friend, invite a new coworker or classmate to lunch, or help a busy neighbor with a chore, it’s easy to increase the amount of kindness in your day-to-day life. Need inspiration? Try listening to podcasts that encourage kindness and good deeds to get you in the mood. Or take a cue from people who make kindness a priority and plan to do something specific, like buy coffee for the person behind you in line, each month.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the deputy editor of The Renewal Project.