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It's really easy to get caught up in your own little bubble and forget about how you're making an impact on those around you. I'm not talking about your friends, family, and co-workers. You probably have an idea of your relationships with them and how you affect their lives and vice versa. I'm talking about the greater community outside of that, from your neighbors to everyone who lives in your city to the country to the world. Yes, it may seem very meta, and maybe even a little woo-woo, but when was the last time you thought about that?
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We're focusing on how to help others this month, which feels more important than ever right now. If thoughts like "What can I do? How do I get started? I feel so overwhelmed" have crossed your mind, you're not alone. It can be challenging to figure out where to even begin, and then you might wonder if you're actually making a difference.
Well, the good news is just by putting yourself out there and trying to be a better person and neighbor (not just to the people who live next door but to everyone around you), you are doing something to make things better. Every act, big or small, can help, and you don't need to donate a million dollars to a cause or go on a humanitarian mission to bring something to your community. So if you're wondering how to start, we've rounded up some ideas below. Have an idea we didn't include? Send us a DM or comment on @thethirty. We'd love to hear it.
1. Say Hello
We'll start with an extremely easy one. Just the act of smiling, saying hi, and being friendly to your neighbors, strangers, etc., might make their day better. And it doesn't take much effort at all. The next time you're passing someone on the street, coming across a person in public, or interacting with a cashier or server, don't look away. Just give them a smile or a quick hello.
2. Stop to Help Someone
This scenario has probably played out for you: You're at a store or somewhere in public and see someone having a tough time—maybe they can't carry all their bags, or they dropped something on the ground. You might pause and wonder if you should say something or offer help. Skip the pause next time and offer assistance.
Right now, it might be hard to do this because of social distancing, but when it's feasible, give it a try.
3. Send a Note to Someone
There's something about snail mail that feels extra special. Send a card to someone in your life you're thinking of right now or someone who you know needs it. You can even sign up with an organization to write cards to cheer up strangers, such as elderly people who are lonely or kids in the hospital.
4. Find a Volunteer Organization to Donate Your Time To
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Research and think about the causes you're passionate about, and then find out how you can help.
5. If You Don't Have Time, Consider Donating Something
Your schedule might not work with the time commitments that a volunteering gig requires, and you won't want to be flaky with something like this. So if you can't commit time-wise, you can find ways to donate your money (if you have the means) or even things you no longer need or have extra of.
6. Say Thank You
Another simple act that goes a long way. Remember to show gratitude, even for the smallest things.
7. Offer to Run Errands for Someone Who Can't
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If you know of a friend, neighbor, or family member who can't go to the grocery store, needs a babysitter, or can't drive themselves to an appointment, this is a good opportunity to offer your time. Again, this might be hard with current social distancing guidelines, so use your best judgment with what can and can't be done right now.
8. Add to an Order
This idea comes from Michelle Plantan, VP, social and innovation at Who What Wear and THE/THIRTY: "If you're placing an order for something, offer to add your neighbors' items to the order to reduce delivery volume and take something off their to-do lists."
9. Support Local Businesses
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It's always smart to shop local, but now it's especially important. If you love your neighborhood boutique, restaurant, bar, coffee shop, et.c, frequent them. Right now, you can buy gift cards, order delivery or pick-up (if it's available and safe to do so), and tell your friends, family, and others about the business.
10. Start or Join a Group Online
If your neighborhood has a NextDoor, or an organization or community you care about has a Facebook Group or online message board, consider joining it. It's a good way to stay in touch with others and look for ideas on how you can provide support. THE/THIRTY's social media editor, Candice Aman, says she has one for her apartment building: "Someone started a Facebook group where we can post events (around the community and with residents), offer to do things for each other, and even vent about building management. It helps create a sense of community, more than NextDoor does!"
11. Reduce Waste
This one's going to take a lot of commitment and might require some lifestyle changes. But caring for the environment is an important part of being a good neighbor or making a difference in your community. We do inhabit the same planet, after all.
To start, think about the waste you accumulate and try to think of ways you can limit it. Small swaps can be made like using silicone zip bags instead of plastic sandwich bags; bringing your own grocery bags to the store; and eliminating single-use items from your home.
12. Walk More
Another idea for how to be a good neighbor and reduce your carbon footprint is thinking about how you use transportation or commute. Walk to nearby spots, take public transportation, carpool with someone. Of course, you might not be able to do this all the time, but being mindful helps.
13. Introduce Yourself to a Neighbor
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Who What Wear Editor in Chief Kat Collings has this idea: "When a new neighbor arrives, make sure to introduce yourself, share any 'local intel,' and maybe even bring them a sweet treat."
14. Listen to Someone
If someone you know is having a tough time, just being there for them can be helpful. You might not be able to solve their problems, but you can let them talk about what they're going through and offer support.
15. Bring Your Pets Into It
Pets can help break the ice, and might even make someone feel better. Who What Wear associate beauty editor Courtney Higgs has this suggestion: "Introduce your pets and greet furry friends like you would greet their people."
16. Show Gratitude for Workers
Now more than ever, this can be so much more meaningful. Make sure you are thanking the people out there who are delivering food to you, working at the grocery store, putting in a shift at the hospital—you know, the people who are keeping things running. Just a simple thank-you will do, but consider tipping delivery couriers extra or donating to an organization that is supporting these workers by sending meals or providing essentials.
17. Become a Mentor
You might not be able to do this now, or perhaps you can find an organization that allows for virtual communication. Either way, becoming a mentor allows you to share your expertise or life experience with someone who wants to learn more or needs extra support.
18. Search for Remote Volunteer Opportunities
This is another option if your other commitments prevent you from volunteering in person, or maybe there aren't many opportunities where you live. There are a lot of ways that you can volunteer from your own home, like phone banking, reading to people on video conferences, etc. Check out some options here.
19. Consider Small Acts of Kindness
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In your day-to-day, there are small things you can do to make someone's day better, such as holding open the door or giving up your seat for someone who needs it. There might not be many opportunities at this moment when we're social distancing or staying at home, but keep an eye out for them.
20. Reach Out to Someone Just Because
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Letting someone you know that you're thinking of them can make them feel special and supported. It's as easy as sending a quick text or email or chatting on the phone.
21. Be Mindful When Shopping
When you can't really shop local, consider the other brands you do buy from. Do some research on their policies or contributions to the community. You'll be getting what you need and putting your money toward a good cause at the same time.
22. Donate Blood
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This depends on your ability to do so, but if you can, consider donating blood. The Red Cross says the need for blood products is constant, and right now it's important to keep a stable supply.
23. Forgive Others
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A lot of humans can really hold a grudge. Forgiving others can be a way to mend relationships and move forward. And this also goes for strangers. Just being kind to someone when things don't really go your way or something gets messed up can make the world a much more pleasant place.
24. Lift Others Up
Encourage others. You might even find that you'll get some support in return, too.
25. Ask People What They Need
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And sometimes, just asking someone what you can do for them is the simplest tactic for being a good neighbor. You'll never know until you ask, right?