CLOSE
iStock
iStock

11 Little Things You Can Do to Make A Difference

iStock
iStock

Need a little affirmation that there’s still a lot of good in this world? This October 22, volunteers from across the country will come together to help others in honor of "Make a Difference Day." If you want to get in on the act, Make a Difference Day has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available to help improve your community or brighten someone's day. Or, you can also participate on your own time with some of these good deeds—many of which can easily become daily or monthly habits.

1. VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER.

Getty

Offer an hour out of your week to a local animal shelter. They usually need help walking dogs, grooming animals, and cleaning living spaces, among other things. Some shelters even let kids get in on the action by having them hone their reading skills by reading books to the animals, who appreciate the attention. No time to volunteer? Shelters always need pet food, toys, and other supplies if you'd prefer to make a donation.

2. DONATE UNUSED TOILETRIES.

Got extra toiletries? Maybe you've stashed away mini shampoos from hotel stays, or you stocked up the last time there was a good sale. Instead of letting those extras collect dust in your bathroom closet, donate them to homeless shelters or women's shelters. Give your intended recipient a call first, though—some organizations only accept certain sizes.

3. PLANT PRODUCE FOR YOUR FOOD BANK.

Those of you with green thumbs can dedicate space in your garden to do good for others. Check with your local food banks to see what fresh produce they can accept, and then set aside some square footage—even just a row or a container—and give whatever grows to the food kitchen. Vegetables like carrots, peppers, onions, and tomatoes can go a long way in making a low-cost meal more nutritious.

4. GROW SOME EXTRA BLOOMS.

iStock

If you're more inclined to grow flowers than veggies, you can do good with those, too. Plant a cutting garden, and take bouquets to hospitals and nursing homes to brighten someone's day.

5. ADD ON TO YOUR ELECTRICITY BILL.

Many energy companies have programs that allow customers to make small donations while paying their bill that go to pay the energy bills of households that have trouble keeping the lights on and the house warm.

6. MULTIPLY YOUR DONATION—FOR FREE!

Many employers will match your charitable donations, usually to organizations that align with their own philosophies. Find out if your employer has a matching donation program—or ask if they'll start one.

7. LEAVE GOOD READING MATERIAL FOR SOMEONE TO FIND.

You can make someone's commute or lunch break far more interesting by leaving a good book for them to find. Attach a note with a brief recommendation (and an assurance that the book is meant to be taken and enjoyed) and, if you want to spread the literary love even more, participate in this Kindness initiative by posting your gift and encouraging your friends on social media to join in.

8. MULTITASK WHEN YOU GO ON WALKS.

The next time you head out for a relaxing stroll, take a bag with you and pick up litter and trash along your route. Not only will Mother Nature appreciate the effort, you’ll also make the next person’s walk that much more enjoyable.

9. MAKE YOUR EXERCISE CHARITABLE.

Do twice as much good while you're on that walk. A free app called Charity Miles partners with companies that make charitable donations based on the distance you walk or run, which is tracked via the app. You can choose from a number of charities, including the National Park Foundation, the ASPCA, the Wounded Warrior Project, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.

10. BUY AN EXTRA ITEM WHEN YOU GROCERY SHOP.

iStock

Every time you make a stop at the grocery store, pick up an extra nonperishable item or two. At the end of the month, you’ll have a good stash to donate to your local food bank.

11. DRIVE A VETERAN.

Have a driver's license and a little bit of free time? Volunteer to drive a veteran to appointments at your local VA hospital to get the treatments they need. And that's just one of the ways you can help our military members—you can also donate frequent flyer miles, help train service dogs, and help build or modify homes for disabled veterans who need customized accommodations.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
15 Organizations Helping Women Around the World
iStock
iStock

Organizations supporting women and promoting equality and fairness in wages, in behavior, and with opportunities have spent years putting women's rights at the forefront of their missions. In honor of International Women's Day, held annually on March 8, we've compiled a list of organizations that are fueling this societal change for the better. Check out the institutions that are helping fight for what's fair, no matter where women are in the world.

1. WOMEN'S GLOBAL EMPOWERMENT FUND

A woman walks with her child
iStock

Since 2007, this advocacy group has been empowering under-privileged women in Uganda by offering business training and access to microloans to help facilitate their professional independence. The group's contributions have emboldened Ugandans, with five women affiliated with WGEF's programs running for—and winning—political office in 2016.

2. CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

A Center for Reproductive Rights illustration
Center for Reproductive Rights

Supporting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body is the focus of this legal consortium, which has had impact on local and international laws. They've had influence over reproductive health policies in Asia, Africa, and the U.S., and helped shed light on an oppressive abortion ban in El Salvador that's led to women being jailed for stillbirths. Their efforts on behalf of "Las 17," 17 Salvadoran women accused of having abortions, has seen several women released from prison; the efforts are ongoing.

3. WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL

The Women for Women International logo
Women for Women International

This nonprofit seeks to support women displaced or marginalized by conflict and oppression in eight foreign territories including Iraq and Rwanda. Many of their efforts are education-based, facilitating classes and finding opportunities for graduates. Currently, the group is offering psychosocial and educational resources to Syrian women in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a goal of reaching over 3000 women in the next three years.

4. SCHOOL GIRLS UNITE

A classroom facilitated by School Girls Unite
School Girls Unite

This nonprofit tackles education discrimination among young women in developing countries. In Mali, Africa, for example, only one in four girls make it to 7th grade. School Girls Unite subsidizes their education, often at a cost as little as $75 per child, and follows the recipients to encourage them to complete their education.

5. TIME'S UP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

The Time's Up logo
Time's Up

The personal and professional consequences of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace have often made it difficult for women to speak out. Fearing they'll be ostracized, they remain quiet. On top of that, legal action can be costly. Backed by the National Women's Law Center, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund seeks to provide legal assistance for women looking to battle harassment in court. Just two months into their existence, organizers have fielded 1700 requests from all across the world, including the U.S., Kenya, and Kuwait.

6. EVERY MOTHER COUNTS

A mother holds her child's hand
iStock

Model Christy Turlington Burns founded this activist group that seeks to improve medical care for mothers around the world by training professionals, improving transportation to care facilities, and donating crucial supplies to clinics. The organization has arranged grants that have improved mother mortality rates in Tanzania, Haiti, and India.

7. EQUALITY NOW

A book is open to the definition of equality
iStock

Putting an end to unjust and gender-biased laws is the focus of Equality Now, which has helped change over 50 laws and pursued equal rights since its inception in 1992. Thanks to their activism, women in Kuwait have voting rights; in the U.S., the group's protests and engagement also helped pass the first law prohibiting sex tourism.

8. ORCHID PROJECT

A woman works in a field
iStock

Persistent cultural traditions endorse the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), which involves the removal of external female genitalia. Risky, unnecessary, and invasive, the tradition is being challenged by Orchid Project, which aims to end the practice by circulating educational information in areas like Ethiopia.

9. ANITA B. ORG

A person types on a laptop
iStock

Since 1987, this social enterprise has pursued the mission statement of founder Anita Borg by putting women in a position to excel in the technology field. The group provides resources for education in coding and diversity both in the U.S. and abroad. In India, they organize career fairs for women only, offering companies the chance to improve their gender diversity in the workforce.

10. FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE

A woman sits with her child
iStock

Offering financial resources to poverty-stricken areas of Guatemala, Friendship Bridge offers opportunities for education and entrepreneurial training that would otherwise be unavailable.  By offering microcredit loans, women collaborate with other members of a "trust" and take part in educational sessions as part of the terms of the loan. By combining capital with resources, Friendship Bridge is able to facilitate better working conditions for the population.

11. PATHFINDER INTERNATIONAL

The Pathfinder International logo
Pathfinder International

Pathfinder seeks to eliminate barriers to health or reproductive services in over 19 countries, working to end unsafe abortions and HIV transmission. The group also offers family planning counseling and aims to expand the availability of contraceptives.

12. DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Articles of clothing are arranged on a rack
iStock

Wearing the appropriate attire for a job interview is crucial for prospective employees. For over 20 years, the caregivers at Dress for Success have been helping women realize their professional goals by providing apparel they might not otherwise be able to afford. The nonprofit accepts clothing donations and then distributes them to countries and areas that may not have wardrobe resources on hand.

13. GLOBAL FUND FOR WOMEN

A Global Fund for Women infographic
Global Fund for Women

Movements big and small have been influenced by this nonprofit that seeks to finance efforts toward equality. The group has helped over 5000 directives in 175 countries since 1987, including efforts to improve women's working conditions and halt human trafficking.

14. SHARE & CARE FOUNDATION

A woman sits in a field
iStock

Helping women thrive in rural India in the focus of this nonprofit, which prioritizes education, health care, and gender equality. Their goals have emphasized self-defense training for women as well as financial management skills. 

15. MADRE

The MADRE logo
MADRE

Following wars or natural disasters, MADRE teams with local community leaders to create solutions. When resources are scarce, the organization brings in the tools necessary for women to help rebuild. In Kenya, that can mean clean water; in Colombia, it could mean art therapy for survivors of war or abuse.   

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Disney/Marvel Studios
arrow
entertainment
Success of Black Panther Inspires Disney to Donate $1 Million to Youth STEM Programs
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Since opening in U.S. theaters on February 16, Blank Panther has already defied industry expectations more than once. The blockbuster now holds the records for biggest February opening, biggest standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and highest-grossing film featuring a black cast. To celebrate the film's groundbreaking success, Disney is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Fortune reports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs to young people from low-income households. They offer kids a place to build their athletic, artistic, and leadership skills, but Disney's donation will go specifically toward funding STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The technology of the fictional African nation of Wakanda plays a central role in Black Panther. Shuri, T'Challa's sister and the head of all things tech in the film, has been praised for potentially inspiring young women to take an interest in STEM. "It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "So it’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use Disney's generous donation to help establish STEM Centers of Innovation in cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, where much of the movie was shot, and Oakland, California, the hometown of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Ten additional cities, from New Orleans to Chicago, will also be getting STEM centers of their own.

The donation is sure to make a huge impact on communities around the country, but it's just a fraction of what Disney is set to make from the film. According to some projections, it won't be long before film surpasses the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

[h/t Fortune]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios