"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
These are wise and powerful words from the late Martin Luther King Jr. Yet, despite this, there is always a lack of people willing to serve and give back to the community. There is always the hint of hesitancy, and then, there are those who just do not know how.
To put it simply, one should give back because one is able to in the first place. It builds character, benefits the community, and for families, it can serve as an example for children to follow. The holidays are rolling around again, and this is the time where families get together to celebrate them. How will you utilize that time? It could be sitting around enjoying material possessions, or it could be going out together as a family and instilling life skills that will continue to impact lives while those material possessions break and fade away.
HOW TO GIVE BACK
There is no shortage of ways to give back to the community. People are under the assumption that in order to give back, they need to have a stack of cash in their bank account. They fail to realize that there are other ways to give back that do not require money.
1. GIVE YOUR TIME
It is not hard to find places that need volunteers. A quick Google search and you will find a list of reputable volunteer options in the Baton Rouge area. All you will need is a contact person and his or her phone number, or a link to the foundation’s website, to discover what volunteer opportunities are available. Find which opportunity best suits you and your family.
2. BECOME A MENTOR
The Big Buddy Program provides mentors who have such a huge impact on children’s lives. When you serve as a mentor, you will help build relationships with children in order to help build up their self esteem. You are ultimately there to help support their overall growth and development.
3. HELP FEED THE HUNGRY
The Baton Rouge Food Bank is always looking for people to help them complete their mission to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach through faith-based and other community partners. However, there are several other organizations geared towards helping those who are in need of food and services.
4. START YOUR OWN FOOD DRIVE
If you’re wanting to take a more hands-on approach to helping feed the hungry, start your own food drive as a family. Discuss how you would like to collect the food, collect boxes for your food items, and spread the word.
At the end of the day, volunteering one’s time leaves such a longer lasting impact on people’s lives. Showing up with a smile on their face, volunteers are able to spread positivity and life to people and situations that seem so dire. One single interaction between a person with a heart and soul oftentimes leaves a larger imprint on someone’s life than a check. ■
WHERE TO GIVE BACK
If you aren’t sure which organizations are in need, we have compiled a list of local organizations to give you some ideas. You and your family can choose one (or more) and do your best to help out those in need this holiday season.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area
American Red Cross of Louisiana
Baton Rouge Youth Coalition
Big Buddy Program
Brave Heart–Children In Need, Inc.
Capital Area Animal Welfare Society
Capital Area CASA Association
Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge
Capital Area United Way
Connections for Life
Dreams Come True
Dream Day Foundation
Fathers on a Mission (F.O.A.M.)
Girls on the Run
Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank
(225) 359-9940 ext. 207
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge
Iris Domestic Violence Center
Keep Tiger Town Beautiful
Louisiana Book Festival
Louisiana Hemophilia Foundation
Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services
Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge
River Road African American Museum
The Salvation Army
Top Box Foods
United Cajun Navy
(844) 4UCNAVY (482-6289)
Volunteers of America
Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS)
Women’s Community Rehabilitation Center