For several years, I have had a silly idea bouncing around in the back of my head. See, I don’t have all that many talents. I’m not a great piano player or dancer. I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t sculpt. My coordination is … well, infamous. You don’t even want to know what happened the first time I went roller skating.
(Okay. I’ll tell you. I got a concussion.)
(You just can’t make this stuff up.)
But y’all, I do have one gift. I know how to coupon.
No worries – I’m not one of those crazy coupon ladies on TV that buys 147 bottles of mustard at 3 cents each, just because I can. But I do love saving money on products that my family uses and loves, and I’ve learned how to buy many name brand items for much less than their generic counterparts. And I find that really exciting.
(I know. I need to get out more.)
So for years, I’ve had this idea: I wanted to go volunteer at the local women’s shelter. And I wanted to teach them “how to coupon”.
A few months ago, I lucked out and met one of the women who runs this shelter. And imagine my delight when I found out that they had been actually looking around for someone to come teach the ladies how to coupon!!
Friends … it was magical. Honestly. Sitting in a room with women who have been lived unimaginable lives … talking to them, answering their questions, encouraging them, showing them that they CAN afford nice things if they learn a few little skills … sending them on their way with toothpaste and shampoo and nail polish and baby lotion … seeing their gratitude for even these simple items … it snapped my life into perspective. It showed me that the problems I deal with really aren’t so bad. And as I returned home, I felt so, so blessed.
So this week, we’re going to do a challenge we’ve done before. We’re going to do the shelter challenge again.
For those of you newer to Let’s Do Some Good Today (or for those who would like a refresher), you can check out the original challenge here.
This week, I’d like you to do something for a local shelter. You can take this challenge in a lot of different directions, but first of all, you need to choose a shelter. What speaks to your heart? Within 20 miles of my home, we have women’s shelters, animal shelters, a shelter for homeless teens, shelters for homeless families, shelters for homeless men … and those are just the ones I know of! If you don’t know where to start, try asking around, or even do an online search for “shelter” and your zipcode.
Once you’ve picked a shelter, time to serve!
1. Wish list. If this is your first time participating in this challenge, you can just do what we did for our last challenge: print off their wish list. Many shelters have this right on their website. If they don’t, you can call and ask what their greatest needs are. They’ll be thrilled to tell you! I think that many of us like the idea of helping those in need, but we don’t know where to start. Well, this is your start! When you find out what is needed, it will be easy to keep your eyes open. When I see socks and underwear on clearance, I grab them – I know every shelter needs them. When I see a fantastic deal on pet food, I pick some up to donate to the animal shelter. When I find an awesome sale on make-up, I grab a little extra to donate to the women’s shelter, just for fun. By knowing what the needs are in my community, it is much easier for me to serve.
If you’ve already done that, here are a few more ideas for you to consider:
2. Shop. Set a budget for yourself and go buy a few items that your local shelter urgently needs. Shop smart! I’m all about shopping frugally so you can maximize your ‘giving budget’. (I don’t usually talk much about that over here since this isn’t a money saving blog, but I have guest posted on my cousin’s awesome website. If you’d like to read the articles I’ve written on saving money, and on earning a little extra cash, you can check this post out.) One more tip: I always, always check my “junk mail” for coupons. I will occasionally get coupons from local stores that say things like “$10 off any purchase of $10 or more”. That’s the perfect way to pick up a small item for a shelter!
3. Volunteer. Do you think you can commit to helping your local shelter once a week, or even once a month? See what help they need! If you can’t sign up for a long-term commitment, ask and see if there’s a one-day project that they need help with. Do they need a room painted? Show up with a group of friends and get it done! Do you have some random but useful skill (like, I don’t know, couponing)? Call them up and ask if they’d be willing to let you come teach a class!
4. Gather. If your friends knew what your local shelters needed, they might be willing to help. Raise your voice on social media and advocate! One of my local hospitals is always in need of items for new babies, so I hosted a baby shower for charity. My cousin’s local hospital was specifically in need of baby blankets, so she hosted a baby blanket drive and picked them up all around town. Once you find out what the needs are, let others know, too.
That’s our challenge for this week, friends! Personally, my goal is to bring a few donations to the local animal shelter. I might do a few other things from this awesome list of ideas, too. What about you? What shelter do you want to support, and how are you planning on doing it?