Easy Ways to Give Back in 2014

By Samantha Snow

Want a resolution you can actually follow? Make a goal to become a more giving person. Giving back to your community is rewarding, which makes it easy to stick with. And you can get started right away! Here are some simple ways to give back in SLO:

1. Blood Bank

If you have an hour to spare and you aren’t the squeamish type, visit the United Blood Services blood bank on Broad Street. Just one pint of your blood can save up to three lives! You can even request where your donation will be sent, if you know a particular person or institution in need. Even if you are nervous around needles or blood, the friendly staff makes the process as painless and quick as possible.

It's also easy to give blood on campus, since there are several blood drives throughout the school year — it doesn't get easier than that!

Personally, I try to give blood a couple of times a year and I find it very rewarding. And the after-donation snacks aren’t bad, either.

2. Food Bank

Like the blood bank, it’s another bank that doesn’t deal with money. The SLO Food Bank accepts donations and seeks volunteers at their Paso Robles warehouse year round. Look out for food donation barrels; plenty of organizations host food drives to collect non-perishable items for people in need. Next time you shop for groceries, buy an extra item and place it in a barrel. It won't cost much, but it's guaranteed to help someone else.


3. Salvation Army

We all know them as the bell-ringing santas collecting donations outside of stores, but there are other ways to support Salvation Army. Salvation Army is a Christian organization active in global and local communities providing, among other services, emergency relief, addiction rehabilitation, food and shelter for the impoverished, and preventing human trafficking. San Luis Obispo has its own Salvation Army thrift store located downtown on Islay Street. Need to make room for your new Christmas goodies? Consider donating items you no longer use. Need to buy a belated gift? When you shop at Salvation Army, you know your money is going to a good cause — and there are plenty of hidden gems in thrift stores.

4. Goodwill

Like Salvation Army, Goodwill is a charity organization with a store in San Luis Obispo. According to their website, Goodwill’s aim to “help youth, seniors, veterans, immigrants, and people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs” obtain job training and build confidence so they can become self-sustaining citizens with successful careers. With a family as goofy as mine and the store’s eclectic selection, Goodwill is my go-to place for gag gifts. And if you’re willing to look, you’re sure to find little treasures. I occasionally find brand new clothes and unopened products for a bargain! Goodwill thrift stores can be found on both Industrial Way and Higuera Street.

So what are you waiting for? There are so many no-brainer ways to donate and get involved. Check out local charities and you'll feel better while helping others.

This post was contributed by Samantha Snow.