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August Is National Water Quality Month

It covers 70% of the Earth, makes up about 60% of the human body and is the foundation of life for almost all living things. What is it? You guessed it: water. Water is vital to our existence and to our wellbeing, but in recent decades pollution and other harmful practices have consistently damaged the water we live by, drink and cook with.

Needless to say, clean water is important. During a month when everyone is out enjoying lakes, rivers, oceans and having tall glasses of ice-cold water, it becomes even more apparent how important quality water is. This August, we celebrate National Water Quality Month. How can you have an impact on water quality? We’ve got some ideas for the role you play in making a difference.

Avoid flushing medications.
Avoid flushing any old or unused medications down your toilet at home or down the sink. Pipes can lead back into a general water source which then gets contaminated with your medication.

Don’t hose off the driveway.
Always sweep your driveway to keep it clean, rather than hosing it off. When washing your car, use a commercial car wash whenever possible rather than doing it yourself at home. When chemicals run down your driveway into the storm drain they flow directly into lakes and streams.

Pick up after your pooch.
Seriously, people. When it rains, that water picks up poop particles from your pooch and can then go into different water systems. Nobody wants that.

Watch out for litter.
We all know to avoid littering, but go a step further and keep an eye out for any litter wherever you go. Whenever possible, pick it up and put it in the proper disposable bin.

Stop overusing chemicals.
Pesticides and fertilizers can have a proper use, but avoid overusing them whenever possible. The chemicals can travel through runoff water and soil, thus contaminating ground water.

Stay phosphate-free.
Help save our lakes and rivers by choosing nontoxic household products, and using phosphate-free items like detergent.

Join a cleanup project.
If you want to go a step beyond preventative care, be proactive by joining a local or national clean up project that works on our beaches, streams or wetlands. Many governmental or nonprofit organizations often have events or projects that focus on enhancing the quality of local water sources. See how you can get involved and give back to make sure that your and everyone’s water is clean.

Educate yourself.
Finally, take some time this month to educate yourself on what’s actually in your water, the quality of your water and how it can further be improved. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledgeable you are, the more you can make a difference.

Water sustains life. Therefore, it’s vitally important to all of us. This August, celebrate National Water Quality Month by being aware of your water habits and taking steps to ensure clean water for everyone. When we have clean water, we can lead satisfying lives.

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How to Choose the Right Charity for Donating

So, you worked out a budget, have some extra money saved up and would like to use that money for the greater good. You want to use your finances to live a more altruistic life, but what does that life look like for you?

If this sounds like your situation, chances are you’re ready to find a cause worth donating to. There are lots of worthy nonprofits out there who need financial support, so how can you pick just one? Today, we’re here to help you learn how to choose the right charity for donating.

1. Decide on a cause you care about.
First things first: before you can donate to an organization, you have to decide what you feel passionate about. There are all sorts of different causes out there who need support. Reflect on your own life and experiences to truly consider a cause you care deeply about. Whether it’s something you or a loved one have gone through or just something you’re interested in, the more the cause matters to you, the more invested you will feel.

2. Find a nonprofit in need.
After you find a cause, check out different nonprofit organizations locally, nationally or internationally who work in that field. Chances are, some nonprofits might need more immediate support than others. Search through various nonprofit organizations to find one you can donate to which fits your passion, goals and support.

3. Research the organization’s legitimacy.
Once you have decided on an organization, be sure to research its legitimacy. Unfortunately, there are many “nonprofits” out there who may not be a nonprofit at all. Doing a quick search online is a useful way to make sure an organization is exactly what they seem. Services such as Charity Check 101 and Charity Navigator can help validate a nonprofit as well as give transparency into their operations.

4. Check out administrative expenses.
Along with legitimacy comes the nonprofit’s expenditures. Research to see where their money typically goes. All organizations need to support their staff and administration, but make sure the majority of their finances go directly towards support the clients they serve. For some nonprofits, extreme administrative expenses can result in less aid to their cause, so be careful when researching one to donate with.

6. Learn about tax deductions.
After you have considered all aspects and made your donation, check out if your donation is tax deductible. For your donation to be tax deductible, the organization must be registered with the IRS as a nonprofit. Do your research either beforehand or afterwards if you want to record your donation for tax purposes.

7. Give more than money.
Finally, remember to give more than money by volunteering and working with some of your favorite nonprofits. While donations are always appreciated and valued, getting involved and working hands-on is often an unforgettable experience, which benefits both you and the organization. Live altruistically in all areas of your life by contributing your time as well.

If you’re interested in donating to a charity, make sure to examine all aspects of the organization before giving. Find a cause you care about and get involved to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

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5 Benefits of Volunteering with Senior Citizens

Volunteering is a powerful force for good in the community. Whether you work with children, animals or cleaning up the surrounding neighborhood, giving your time freely in service shows compassion and builds an altruistic life for yourself and those around you.

When it comes to volunteering, there are all sorts of ways to get going. One area in particular is working with senior citizens. Volunteering with elderly neighbors is an excellent way to get involved, support your community and find fulfillment. Check out these five benefits of volunteering with senior citizens.

1. Build a relationship.
A common problem many elderly people face is loneliness. Some may live far from their families, may have lost a spouse or may not get very many visitors. What results, then, are very few human interactions outside of basic health care. For you, volunteering with senior citizens may simply mean sitting in conversation, playing a board game or practicing a new craft together.

By volunteering your time in such simple ways, you help combat the loneliness they may be experiencing and build a positive relationship for them to look forward to. Not only can they enjoy the relationship, but you, too, could make a new friend in your life.

2. Learn something new.
Not only can you create a new relationship, but more than likely you’ll have the opportunity to learn something new. Learn a new craft, skill or hobby. Or, learn about historic events by someone who may have had firsthand exposure. When we sit in deep conversations with those who have had drastically different experiences than us, we have the chance to learn drastically different things and grow in our newfound knowledge.

3. Teach new skills.
As your senior friend teaches you new ideas, you in turn can teach them. A common misconception about older adults is they have lost the desire to learn new skills, or are too “stuck in their roots” to try anything different. For many, this could not be more false.

By volunteering with senior citizens, you have the chance to teach them something, a new concept, way of thinking or—here’s the big one—about technology. If you love technology, teaching these new skills to older individuals can not only be a fun way to foster a relationship, but it can also make them feel more engaged and connected with the changing world.

4. Support a family.
Some aging adults might not have many visitors. This could be for a variety of reasons, but some could simply be because their family is too far away or has other pressing concerns. You can help through volunteering. Not only will you be serving the individual him or herself, but you will also be helping the entire family through your commitment. Show you care about one person and the cycle will ring on throughout their family, friends and even the community.

5. Add to your resume.
Finally, volunteering with senior citizens is an amazing attribute to add to your work resume. Potential employers will see you as kind, compassionate and committed to serving others, along with having valuable experience in a work-related environment. Try it out for yourself and see how it benefits your personal and professional life.

Volunteering opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, but working with senior citizens can be especially beneficial. See how you can get involved in serving the elderly members of your community and focus on living a more altruistic lifestyle.

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Get Involved and Give Back This Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July week! Tomorrow we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the freedoms we have with living in the United States. This is a time to enjoy friends and family, fireworks, parades and of course, great food.

But for those dedicated to living an altruistic lifestyle, the Fourth of July can also be an opportunity to get involved and give back to our community. If you want to celebrate this Independence Day with an altruistic twist, check out some of these ideas for how you can give back to your community near and far.

1. Volunteer at a Fourth of July celebration.
One easy way to give back this Independence Day is by checking out local parades, markets or celebrations going on in your community, then get involved! Can you help coordinate the parade? What about setting up booths for a Fourth of July market? Or how about putting together a fireworks show display stand to wow the kids?

There’s lots of things going on nearby, and lots of ways for you to help out. See what interests you most and then volunteer yourself or your family for a Fourth of July you will never forget, because you spent it helping others.

2. Write a soldier a thank-you.
Independence Day is a chance to honor all of the dedicated men and women who have given everything to protect and serve our country. This Fourth of July, you can personally celebrate our nation’s heros by writing a soldier a thank-you card for everything they have done.

Are you having a backyard party to commemorate the day? Why not set up a card craft table for children and adults to write notes to soldiers? Then stamp them and send them off to make a soldier’s day, week or month. Or, for an added bonus, consider putting together a care package with all the necessities and luxuries our heros may be missing out on while away from home.

3. Get involved with a local shelter.
Many people in your community probably don’t have the resources to celebrate the Fourth of July the way they would love to. See how you can help out by getting involved with a local shelter. Sign up to help serve food, put together a fireworks show or start up a cookout for a fun, philanthropic Fourth of July that serves others.

Consider donating supplies to help celebrate the day. Have some extra fireworks laying around? Maybe an extra pack of hot dogs or bag of chips? See if it’s possible to donate them to families or individuals in need. Check out local shelters in your area to see what they need and the volunteers they’re looking for, then sign up yourself or your family to get started this week.

4. Invite and include a neighbor.
Finally, honor Independence Day by inviting and including your neighbors around you. The Fourth of July celebrates a time when our country came together for a common purpose, so mark the occasion by inviting others to come together in your life.

See if your neighbor next door has any plans for the day, invite a friend over for a meal or ask a family member if he or she wants to go volunteer with you. However you do it, get others involved in your festivities to have the best Independence Day ever.

This Fourth of July, live an altruistic lifestyle by getting involved and giving back. Try out some of these ideas in your own life to see how you can have a fun, caring and kind Independence Day.