100 things YOU can do to make a difference


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

FuchsiaI’ve been fortunate because I don’t have all my eggs in one basket. I work persistently and consistently on my daily plans, often creating niche markets, niche economies, and niche environments that insulate me from the doom and gloom over which I have no control.

Even more important, I get out and contribute to my community. For those occasions when I cannot contribute to my community, I’ll write a check.

The recent mass murder (it was much more than what the press calls a “mass shooting”) in Colorado reminds me that, as Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village….”

FuchsiaFor those people who continue to rant about things over which you have no control, I would suggest getting out in your community and volunteering. You probably won’t make any money today or tomorrow, but I can guarantee you a lot of good will, and if you’ll make sure that people know who you are and what you do for a living, you just might be surprised at how fast one good turn will return another good turn.

My life has been full of volunteerism, so much so that too often I let the unpaid volunteer job interfere with the paid professional job. I started with Key Club in high school, moved on to Alpha Phi Omega National Co-ed Service Fraternity in college, and then to Red Cross, American Heart Association, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and many, many others.

FuchsiaFollowing are 100 things you can do to help the world. I have done them all at some point in my life. Don’t let your ego get in the way of contributing to your neighborhood and city. Keep in mind that businesses have liability concerns, so the type of services that you’re allowed to volunteer for might be limited.

  1. Adopt a block in your neighborhood and pick up the trash and pull the weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks.
  2. Have a block party. Make sure you inform the city in case permits or safety personnel are required.
  3. If you can’t have a block party, have a moving or rolling supper. We did this in college in Alpha Phi Omega where we had hors d’oeuvres at one house, salad at another, soup at another, etc. Great way to meet people and have fun.
  4. FuchsiaGive blood (I’m a 10-gallon blood donor. It would be more but blood centers still discriminate against gay people, and I refuse to lie to them, to go back in the closet, in order to donate blood.).
  5. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
  6. Take a group of neighborhood children some place that’s free. Many of our museums here are free on the first Tuesday of each month.
  7. Since many small businesses are suffering, go to your favorite hair dresser or farmer’s market — or any other business — and ask if they can use your help for an hour. It might just be sweeping the floor, cleaning the windows, or taking out the trash, but you doing that will free up their employees to help their customers.
  8. FuchsiaClean your home and donate things that you haven’t used in six months to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other such organizations.
  9. Have a neighborhood yard sale.
  10. Volunteer with Big Brothers.
  11. Volunteer with Big Sisters.
  12. Volunteer with Boy Scouts.
  13. Volunteer with Girl Scouts.
  14. Write a restaurant review for your local newspaper.
  15. Have a children’s story hour for neighborhood children.
  16. FuchsiaVolunteer at your local library.
  17. Volunteer at your local museum.
  18. Volunteer at your local park.
  19. Volunteer with Special Olympics.
  20. Volunteer with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
  21. Volunteer with the Red Cross.
  22. Volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
  23. Volunteer for an after-school activity.
  24. Write a book review for your local newspaper.
  25. Volunteer at your public television station.
  26. FuchsiaWhatever your area of expertise, offer a seminar on that topic for your neighbors.
  27. Volunteer at an assisted living residence.
  28. Plant a tree — on someone else’s property!
  29. Help a neighbor paint their house.
  30. Help a neighbor spruce up their landscaping.
  31. Volunteer at a Battered Women and Children facility.
  32. Volunteer at an HIV/AIDS facility.
  33. Volunteer at a crisis counseling facility.
  34. Volunteer at a cancer support facility.
  35. FuchsiaVolunteer for Meals on Wheels.
  36. Volunteer for your local disability services.
  37. Volunteer at a substance abuse facility.
  38. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  39. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  40. Volunteer at a justice and legal support center.
  41. Volunteer at a community center.
  42. Volunteer at your church.
  43. Volunteer at your school.
  44. Volunteer at a troubled youth support center.
  45. Volunteer at a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community center.
  46. FuchsiaVolunteer at a Jewish community center.
  47. Volunteer at a job fair.
  48. Volunteer at your local historical society.
  49. Volunteer at your local police department.
  50. Volunteer at your local fire department.
  51. Volunteer with a political action committee.
  52. Volunteer at a local politician’s office.
  53. Volunteer at your YMCA.
  54. Volunteer at your YWCA.
  55. FuchsiaVolunteer at a day care facility.
  56. Volunteer at an adult day care facility.
  57. Find out who’s the oldest person in your neighborhood. Interview that person about his or her life, type it up, and donate it to your local historical society or library.
  58. Be a tutor for youth in your neighborhood.
  59. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
  60. Volunteer at the court house.
  61. Volunteer with AmeriCorps.
  62. Volunteer at your local community college.
  63. FuchsiaVolunteer with your opera society.
  64. Volunteer with your symphony society.
  65. Volunteer with 4-H.
  66. Volunteer with United Way.
  67. Volunteer at 1-800-Volunteer.org.
  68. Take part in medical research if available in your community.
  69. Volunteer at a mental health facility.
  70. Volunteer with your local fitness council.
  71. Volunteer with your Audubon Society.
  72. FuchsiaVolunteer with Junior Achievement.
  73. Sponsor a high school club or organization.
  74. Volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
  75. Volunteer with American Heart Association.
  76. Volunteer with Path of Life Ministries.
  77. Be a reader for recording books for the blind and dyslexic.
  78. Volunteer at your local blood bank.
  79. Volunteer with Ronald McDonald House.
  80. Volunteer at Planned Parenthood.
  81. FuchsiaTeach a course at your local home improvement store.
  82. Teach a course at your local community college.
  83. Volunteer at your city’s visitor’s bureau.
  84. Volunteer at your local food bank.
  85. Volunteer at a thrift store.
  86. Volunteer with Project C.U.R.E.
  87. Volunteer at your local political party headquarters.
  88. Volunteer with HandsOn.
  89. Volunteer with your local Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  90. Volunteer with your local animal rescue organization.
  91. FuchsiaCheck out a book from your local library — Many library budgets are based on library usage.
  92. Get a group of four or five people together and go throughout your neighborhood doing minor tasks for home owners.
  93. Volunteer with the ACLU.
  94. Volunteer with your local Better Business Bureau.
  95. Have a game night for the youth in your neighborhood.
  96. Dine out at least once a week, even if it’s just at McDonald’s.
  97. Volunteer with Easter Seals.
  98. Volunteer with Volunteers of America.
  99. Pick a charity and volunteer or donate.
  100. Expand your world by meeting one new person each day. WordPress makes it easy!

FuchsiaSome of those might require you to get out of your comfort zone. That’s their purpose! Especially in communities that appear homogeneous, there are people who feel out of place, and those are the people who turn into the Jimmy Holmeses of the world. By being active in your community, you just might be able to “friend” that person and prevent a lot of death and grief, even though you might never know it.

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40 thoughts on “100 things YOU can do to make a difference

      1. jmgoyder

        I brought my husband home from the nursing lodge for the day today even though I didn’t think I could manage – it worked okayish but, as he is so immobile now, it was a difficult day. I am having trouble finding volunteer organizations to visit him when I can’t – argh!


        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Talk to the local college, specifically psychology, medical, and humanities students. Quite often they will volunteer in exchange for that all-important letter of recommendation or item on their résumés. I used to be one of those volunteers several decades ago.


            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Here we call it an “unpaid internship.” Unfortunately, too many of today’s young ones would rather play video games or sit on Facebook or Twitter instead of actually going out and doing something good with an unpaid internship. However, there still are people out there who would relish the opportunity to help you and Anthony, as long as they do get something in return, like that letter of recommendation or résumé item. High school seniors can also be a good source.


              1. jmgoyder

                Ming is very philanthropic but he can’t stand to see Anthony any more – a strang paradox that I don’t quite understand but I won’t force an 18-year-old kid to visit and commune with a 77-year-old father when the kid can’t bear it. And yet Ming will help anyone else – very hard and I don’t get it. A few years ago Ming and I saw our doctor and Ming said (he was 15) “We will never put Dad in a nursing home.” Now he says to me, “If you bring him home, I will leave.” Hard stuff when that kid has the biggest heart. Sorry for the ramble!


  1. Sandra C.

    great post russel ! this drama in colodaro is really really hard ! i can’t understand how people can still defend weapons in america…so many people can buy a gun …why they don’t pass a psychological test ?


  2. Maxi

    You have probably helped more people than you know with this post, Russel. It’s a real eye-opener. Number 60 surprised me, didn’t know one could volunteer at the courthouse.

    A ten-gallon blood donor, whew! Still, number four makes me sad. Don’t they know of the horrors that happen with blood transfusions, etc.?

    Blessings – Maxi


  3. alundeberg

    This is an excellent list! Another thing that people can do is donate to an organization in recognition of somebody else. A former colleague of mine made a donation to an orphanage in Kenya in recognition of my work with my students. I don’t think I can convey how good and honored that made me feel.


  4. Andrea Kelly

    What a great and comprehensive list! Thank you for the reminder – it doesn’t always take a big gesture on our part to make a big difference in the life of someone else.


  5. Bam's Kitchen

    Great list to be shared with all the teenagers home on school breaks. Very motivating! Also your photos are just so remarkable each one is like a post card. Take care, BAM


  6. joyswordsofencouragement

    Thank you so much for all of your wonderful ideas. I am home because of being classified disabled but always felt that there was so much more I could be doing other than watching TV. Starting my blog has helped to have a purpose but I think volunteering is a great option as well. Thank you so very much I wish there was a way to print this list as a reminder so that I can look back on it. I’m going to share your ideas with my Facebook friends.


  7. Pingback: The trouble with being a saint.. « butimbeautiful

  8. Pingback: Making a difference begins with me | Russel Ray Photos

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