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How to Donate with a Purpose to Disaster Relief

Floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes… we’ve seen them all. In recent weeks, powerful natural disasters have been popping up all over the world, including in the United States. We’ve watched the news with heartbreaking images of people who lost their homes, their belongings and even loved ones to the devastating impact of these disasters.

When leading an altruistic lifestyle, it’s vital for the national community to come together during times like these and show support for our neighbors. It can be difficult to decide how to give, what you can give or even where to give to. Today let’s take a closer look at how to donate with a purpose to disaster relief.

1. Provide financially.
Some of the greatest support you can give to victims of a natural disaster is financial. Whether it’s $5 or $500, your contribution helps make a difference in providing necessary resources. The greatest benefit of a financial gift is the organization can use your donation for whatever they need, including some needs you probably wouldn’t be able to help with otherwise, such as providing medical equipment or temporary housing. Some donors may feel like financial gifts are less involved and “cold-hearted,” but in fact, they oftentimes fill the greatest area of support.

2. Give (valuable) supplies.
If financial giving doesn’t fit, helpful supplies are always appreciated. Before giving items, though, check and see what the organizations and victims in the area need most. While donations are always appreciated, unnecessary items can sometimes create issues themselves, when people don’t particularly need them and there is nowhere to store them. Check with the organization or knowledgeable volunteers beforehand to see what items are most needed, then give those to the disaster relief to help the area.

3. Donate blood.
In crisis situations such as these, blood is often a huge necessity that can sometimes be forgotten. If you’re able, consider donating to a national bank that can transport the blood to the disaster area. Your blood could be the difference in a life or death situation for a victim, so check out drives in your area and see if you can give.

4. Research the organization beforehand.
In order to donate with a purpose, you first want to be sure the organization you’re giving to is rooted in their purpose. Try to research organizations beforehand to find ones with low administrative fees, where your donation can reach the most victims possible. Check and see if the organization has their own employees and volunteers on the ground in the area, or if they work more to financially support other groups already there. Once you have a strong understanding of the agency, you can donate confidently and know your contribution is going directly to those most in need.

5. Find a local charity.
If national nonprofit organizations aren’t really your speed, search for local charities in the area that are working to support the victims. Oftentimes, local charities are great to donate through because of their lower administrative costs and more hands-on approach. Research organizations in the surrounding community and see if any are able to accept donations at the time for you to contribute.

With situations going on right now in the United States and across the world, it can be difficult to decide how to get involved with supporting the victims of natural disasters. Try out some of these tips to give your contribution value and help the most people possible.

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6 Reasons to Visit a Local Art Gallery

Fall has officially arrived, with the air turning crisp and the leaves slowly starting to fade into their autumn colors. Most importantly, the fall season is filled with different activities to get involved in with your family and live a more altruistic lifestyle.

What if you could enjoy autumn while supporting local community members at the same time? Well, you can! Art galleries are a beneficial component of any neighborhood. Check out some of the ways art galleries are important and why you should visit them this fall.

1. They’re inexpensive (or even free!).
They say the best things in life are free… or at least very cheap. Most community art galleries have inexpensive, or even free, admission. If you’re trying to have an engaging autumn at a low budget, art galleries and other local museums are a great way to save money while having fun.

2. You can learn new things.
Let’s face it: there are a lot of better things to do this season then rewatch your favorite show on Netflix for the fifth time. Visiting an art gallery can help expand your mind and absorb new information. Whether you’re still in school or have been out for years, it’s never too late to try to learn something new. When you visit an art gallery, you’re engaging in education outside of a classroom setting, which lets you learn about topics that interest you at the perfect pace.

3. Art can make you happy.
Studies have shown that looking at art releases dopamine in the brain, a feel-good chemical associated with feelings like falling in love. At the same time, it decreases our cortisol levels, the stress hormone. This means that visiting an art gallery can literally help you to relax, feel at peace and feel content or even giddy. So when you’re ready to kick back and relax this fall, you don’t always have to go to the pumpkin patch; the art gallery can be just as enjoyable.

4. You’ll feel more creative.
There’s just something about seeing others’ creative outlets that allows us to release our inhibitions and express our own creativity even more fully. Whether you’re a musician, writer, photographer or an artist yourself, soaking in creative inspiration from an art gallery can give you just the right amount of vision to explore your own creativity. If you don’t particularly think of yourself as a creative person, just the experience of being in a creative environment can encourage you to try new things, strengthen your imagination and improve an altruistic life.

5. You support local organizations.
Visiting local art galleries and museums is a great way to support the small businesses or nonprofit organizations in your community. Many galleries are entirely donation-based, and your donation can go a long way in strengthening their impact. Not only can you support them financially, but your encouragement and promotion with friends and family shares the love of art galleries with others in your life.

6. They build community.
Finally, art teaches us that we are a part of something larger than ourselves. Art galleries often host events for the community that bring us together and help us get to know our neighbors. A mutual love for art and art galleries builds us up and strengthens the community relationally, emotionally and fiscally.

Art galleries are a vital part of the neighborhood, and this fall you can help support them by visiting and encouraging others to go as well. So go ahead, get out there and live your best life by soaking up the beauty of the artistic world around you.

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How Journaling Leads to a More Altruistic Life

We all remember the glory days of high school. History, algebra, maybe a P.E. day every now and then and of course the dreaded… writing class. We know; some days it felt like agony trying to get one single idea out on paper.

But, your scary old English teacher may have actually been onto something. Journaling can not only better your personal life, but it can improve your altruistic life focus. Turns out, regular writing and keeping a journal actually has a lot of surprising mental and emotional health benefits. Today, we’re going to check them out.

1. Emotional Outlet
Step one: emotional intelligence. Holding in emotions—especially sad, angry, negative ones—has been shown to have incredibly detrimental effects on a person’s health. Daily journaling allows you to release these emotions in a safe, non-judgemental environment, while increasing your self-awareness and emotional perception. Getting negative stuff out on paper leaves more room for positivity to fill you up, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

2. Stress Reduction
With emotional intelligence comes less stress. Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed at situations we perceive as uncontrollable. However, writing about these experiences and actually seeing them on paper gives us something to grasp mentally, helping to reduce our stress levels about the issue. Some studies by Psychology Today have shown journaling to not only reduce stress, but to also lower anxiety and induce a deeper sleep.

3. Creativity Boost
This one’s a no-brainer. The more you write, the more practice you have to get those creative juices flowing. You’ve probably heard the saying before: the question isn’t whether or not we’re creative, it is how to let the creativity out. Regular writing gives you the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas, thoughts and questions, pushing you out of your comfort zone and into a brand new creative realm.

4. Mental Engagement
Of course, the more creative we feel, the more our brains are challenged, and the more we are mentally engaged, which can literally strengthen our IQ. As journaling is an exploration of language, it causes us to search for new words, challenge ideas and strengthen our vocabulary. So, your English teacher was right—writing does make you smarter.

5. Self-Discipline
Setting aside time each day to journal and then sticking to it creates a more disciplined lifestyle, which is a valuable asset to have. Self-discipline can then seep into other areas of life, e.g. getting your work assignments in on time, following through on relational promises or even eating healthier. When it comes to making a positive change, nothing is more important than having a strong self-discipline.

6. Goal Setting
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of all: journaling helps you set and achieve your goals. When we journal, we write about our aspirations, our dreams, our goals. Putting these words to paper and actually writing out what we want to accomplish makes them much more realistic—and realistic means achievable. Writing down goals tells your brain “this is important.” Then, your brain is more prepared to mark relevant opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.

While writing might not have been our favorite class in high school, it’s definitely up there now. Keeping a daily journal has enormous benefits, and encourages us to live a happier, healthier, more altruistic lifestyle. So whether you’re sitting at home, relaxing in the park or enjoying your favorite restaurant, crack open your journal and get writing… you may just be surprised at everything you have to say.

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The History of Labor Day and How You Can Get Involved

Happy Labor Day! On this day around the United States, Americans celebrate the social and economic achievements of the labor movement, and everyday hard workers in our community. Labor Day commemorates the contributions U.S. workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our great nation.

However, we oftentimes forget the great meaning behind this holiday, and instead see it as just another opportunity to have the day off from work. What does Labor Day actually mean, and how can you use an altruistic lifestyle to get involved? Today, let’s talk about the history of Labor Day and some ideas for you to join in.

When was the first Labor Day?
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City by the Central Labor Union. From this unofficial celebration came an increasing emphasis across the nation on Labor Day, a “workingmen’s holiday”. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these ordinances came an outpouring of workers who moved to secure state legislation.

In 1887, the New York legislature was the first to propose a state bill honoring the holiday; however, the first state to actually put Labor Day into law was Oregon, on February 21, 1887. During that same year four more states—Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—established Labor Day as a holiday through legislative enactment.

By 1894, 26 other states had also adopted the day as a way to honor their workers. Finally, on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act officially declaring the first Monday in September as Labor Day—a national legal holiday.

Who founded Labor Day?
Even today, there are still doubts as to who actually came up with the idea for a Labor Day observance. The two men have gone down in history as possible founders of Labor Day are Peter McGuire and Matthew Maguire.

Peter McGuire was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, along with cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. He is said to have been the first to suggest a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” On the other hand is Matthew Maguire, a machinist and later secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, who may have proposed the idea while serving in 1882.

No matter who developed the idea, Labor Day quickly took off and became a nationwide holiday, honoring the strength, freedom and leadership of the American worker.

How can we commemorate Labor Day?
Labor Day means more than just getting an extra day off of work. If you want to really have an impact this Labor Day, make an effort to get involved in your community and give back to the hardworking men and women in your city.

Whether you choose to volunteer at a local shelter, support military service personnel or donate to a cause you care about, your Labor Day can be focused on honoring those who have worked so hard to build up our country’s economic and political well being.

See what activities you have going on in your area today and get involved for a Labor Day you and your family will never forget.