And in fact, some of these will help you out too.
1. Donate to your local food pantry. You can buy stuff at the store if you want to, but you can also clean out your kitchen and donate items. Look for nonperishable food you bought and don’t like, or won’t eat because your diet changed. Staples such as canned vegetables and tuna are critical, but there’s also need for “luxury” items like maple syrup, cake mixes, jelly, and so on. Think about it: if you were eating beans and rice week after week, wouldn’t it be nice to have something else with flavor? Most food pantries welcome these donations. Be sure donations are unopened and within their expiration dates. And you’ll have more room in your kitchen now.
2. Give blood. There’s a huge need for donations, particularly from people with type O+ or O- blood. It only takes about an hour, and you get free juice and cookies. Plus you know you’ve helped save a life. And some of you may not know this, but the Red Cross has relaxed the requirements for donors. For example, if you’re a woman, and you’ve slept with a man who had sex with another man, you are now eligible to donate after 12 months have elapsed. So check out the guidelines and see if you might be eligible now. (As a side note, many people detest the homophobic reasoning behind these guidelines. Me too. But I think the need to save lives is critical. If you have a hospital nearby, you can often donate to them directly and skip the Red Cross. However, I understand that some people may not have the same access I do, and I don’t judge anyone for that.)
3. Donate clothing to your local domestic violence shelter. Go through your closet (or your child’s) and find clothing in good condition that you don’t like or don’t wear. Many women show up at these shelters with almost nothing–wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops in January, for example, because they had to escape with their kids NOW. They need warm clothes. And many shelters do more than give women shelter; some of them help them find new jobs or get professional training. So one major need is business clothing, especially sizes 14 and up. Maybe you’ve changed jobs and don’t need all your suits anymore. Or someone gave your kid clothes they don’t want or need. Donate to the shelter. Someone will be glad to have them, and your closet will be cleaner.
We all know the economy sucks, so how about some other no-cost ideas? Anyone got some good ones?