How to Give Back to Your Community

As human beings, I think we all have an inner desire to one day change the world and make it a better place. Whether that’s fighting for equal rights, providing access to education for all or ending world hunger, we each have something we really wish we could change. I’m grateful that so many of us have this inner spark, a burning desire to see a better tomorrow, but a lot of these dreams are awfully large and it can sometimes be overwhelming to think about all of the things going wrong in the world, especially how many obstacles are in the way of solving these problems. Something I think a lot of us forget about is the power of starting where you are. Not to say that you won’t one day truly change the whole world, but we have an entire community around us that needs help.

We are very fortunate to live in Kansas City, where there are so many networking opportunities and people from diverse walks of life everywhere you go. I absolutely love this city, but there are people who need our help right around the corner. As college students, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed, constantly busy and like you never have a chance to breathe. I suggest, though, that we are able to make time for the things that truly matter to us. I’m sure you understand the reasons that giving back are important, but truly, what point is there to all of the work we do if it is only to better our own situations? In the words of Maame Kwamah Otsieku Baah from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, “I am giving back to my community because it substantiates my purpose on earth.  It is imperative that every man fulfills his purpose in our global community – only when this is done will the earth remain livable.” With this in mind, Kansas City deserves your service. Here are some ways for you to give back.

  1. 1. Volunteer Where You Care.

    The easiest place to start is finding an organization to volunteer for that speaks to you. You can do this by going on volunteermatch.org. On this site, you can select the region you want, a list of cause areas including animals, seniors, education, women, environment, immigrants & refugees and many more. You can also select preferred skill sets and age groups. Searching through this site is how I found this organization that I volunteer for once a week by helping elementary students with reading development after school.

  2. 2. Shop Local.

    Another way to support KC is to shop locally. This is a very simple thing to do that we sometimes forget about. When you shop local, your money is supporting a Kansas City family, likely similar to your own. You can shop locally for books, clothes, groceries, household items, etc. This website has a list of unique small business in KC. As a consumer, you should be conscious of where your money is going and make sure that it’s supporting a company who deserves your cash.

  3. 3. Donate Local.

    Hop on the trend of minimalism and get rid of the things you don’t really need. We all have more in our possession than we actually use. Sort through your clothes and household items that you don’t make use out of and give them to an organization that will put them directly in the hands of someone who would appreciate it more than anything. This website has a fantastic list of places in KC to donate and explains who the organization helps. Their list includes Habitat Restore, Amethyst Place, Disabled Veterans and more.

  4. 4. Fundraise When You Can’t Volunteer.

    There are some groups that need help financially and don’t have many volunteer opportunities. For example, a local school district might desperately need more school supplies. You can set up a fundraiser that collects money or directly donates supplies for the group that needs them. Whether it’s pairing with a local restaurant, selling baked goods or setting up a donation box, there are endless ways for you to collect what you need to give back to a group you care about.

  5. 5. Form a Service Group.

    Lastly, get a group together that will join your effort. Inform your friends about a cause and get people invested. You can have a group that helps you fundraise, or this can be a group that will hold each other accountable to volunteer at a designated location on a regular basis. Good actions have a snowball effect. Suggest a volunteer day to a group you’re already apart of, get your friends excited about the idea or instead of a dinner date, go on a volunteer date.

I hope that reading this will inspire you to take the next step and find a way that you can best give back to your community. Let us never forget the ways in which we are so fortunate and privileged. I hope that all of us take advantage of our time and resources for the betterment of those around us.