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Ever had the words of a song bring a smile to your face … and conviction to your heart at the same time? For me, the message came through Matthew West’s song, My Own Little World. A very self-centered world. Population? Me.

As this blog’s regular followers know, my personal goal this year is to be like a tree planted by rivers of water. Developing deep roots and spreading out my branches to shade and support others. But in order to reach out to others, I have to expand the borders of my personal “world” and become aware of the needs of others. 

Last week, I shared a few ideas on how to support friends and family through practical care. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to focus in on several other opportunities to get involved and make a difference. Until then, here’s a list of a few ideas to get us started.

  • To reach kids: Volunteer at a school. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister. Coach a sports team. Help out at a Boys & Girls Club. Sponsor a child to go to a church camp. Stuff backpacks for low-income kids.
  • To reach seniors: Package or deliver Meals on Wheels. Organize a team of “snow angels” to shovel walks. Be a “visiting angel” to spend time with a shut-in and give their caregiver a break. Offer to run errands and pick up groceries.
  • To reach communities: Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Work at a food bank. Adopt a family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Pick up a hammer or paintbrush and help build a Habitat for Humanity home.
  • To reach across the country: Send care packages to troops overseas. After natural disasters, donate blankets and clothing. Financially support relief organizations. Travel to help with clean-up and rebuilding operations.
  • To reach outside our country: Go on short-term medical, construction, and missions trips. Host an exchange student. If you live near a college, connect with international students as an English tutor.
  • To use your interests to make a difference: Repair cars for single mothers. Provide handyman services for the disabled. Knit or crochet baby hats and blankets for orphanages and hospitals.
  • Connect with a cause: Walk, run, or bike in a fundraiser or awareness event. Grow a mustache for a contest benefiting the Huntington Disease Society. Plant wildflowers or hold a tag sale for the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation.

 Wow! And this list only scratches the surface of ways to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. Imagine what would happen if we each found one or two things and did them consistently?

What about you? How big is your world? What ideas could you add to this list? Have you received anything back when giving to others?

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