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Big Benefits of Supporting Small Businesses

We all know the importance behind supporting local businesses. Unlike their corporate counterparts, local businesses are often made up of people we actually know, who consistently strive to make an impact on our community. We buy local, eat local and go local, in an effort to support those around us.

If you try to live an altruistic life, you might already be involved with one or more of your favorite nonprofit organizations nearby. But did you know you can also give by supporting small businesses? Here are some hows, whys and benefits of supporting small businesses for your altruistic lifestyle.

1. Strengthen the local economy.
According to Civic Economics, for every dollar spent at an independent business, 3x more money is returned back into the local economy, compared to that spent at a larger chain store. Or, compared to an online retailer, 50x more money is returned. This money is going into the community, helping to strengthen other businesses, people and yes—nonprofit organizations. Because of their extreme reach and exposure, large chain stores and online retailers don’t have the same incentives, reasonings or know-how to invest in smaller communities, meaning the money spent there doesn’t always go back to a good cause. Instead, live a more altruistic lifestyle by supporting local businesses and strengthening the economy in your community.

2. Create more jobs.
With those small businesses comes individuals in need of employment that you can actually influence. According to the Small Business Administration, the current 28 million small business in the U.S. have provided 55% of all jobs and 66% of all new jobs since the 1970s. When you support small businesses, you make a vital difference for people in your community who might be searching for employment. We have little control over large corporations and their hiring decisions. But, with local businesses, we can help boost their budget enough to hire our friends, family or neighbors—people who would probably experience much more competition at a large chain store. This is a pretty altruistic impact.

3. Reduce environmental impact.
Speaking of impact, why not also support the environment on your altruistic journey? Locally-owned businesses often make more local purchases for their products, requiring less transportation and outsourcing. They also typically consume less land and create less traffic and air pollution. All of this leads to less congestion, less habitat loss and less pollution overall. This is a pretty big step. When you support small businesses, you help make a difference in the community near and far by making choices that are environmentally-friendly.

4. Build nonprofit relationships.
Finally, one of the most beautiful things about small businesses is their partnerships with local nonprofits in the community, working together to help people living right down the street from you. Small businesses build strong relationships with charities nearby, helping to create a better community for everyone to enjoy. When you support small businesses with your purchases, you help build up their revenue, which they can in turn use toward nonprofits. If you already plan on making a purchase, choosing to buy from a small business is the best way to ensure your purchase also gives back.

Supporting small businesses is an important part of living an altruistic lifestyle. Not only do they strengthen the local economy and create more jobs, but they also have a lower environmental impact and can build powerful relationships with nonprofits in the community. Next time you have a purchase to make, try to support a small business near you, and give back to the community you love.

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6 Altruistic Ways to Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Happy Presidents’ Day! Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington’s birthday, Presidents’ Day has come to be a day of honor, remembrance and gratitude for all United States presidents throughout the years.

Today we take time to remember and say thank you to the presidents who have served the U.S. For some, today means little more than an extra day off of work. For others, it can represent so much more. How can you honor Presidents’ Day in your everyday life and your family’s life? We have some ideas. Check out these six altruistic ways to celebrate Presidents’ Day.

1. Learn about the presidents.
One of the simplest ways to celebrate Presidents’ Day is by learning more about our nation’s presidents. Pick out a few presidents you and your family want to learn more about, then do some fun research on them. For instance, did you know that James A. Garfield could write in Latin with one hand while writing in Greek with the other at the same time? Start with George Washington, then work your way down to see what fun and insightful information you can learn about the former leaders of the United States.

2. Write a letter to the President.
Once you’ve learned more about past presidents, get involved with the modern political system by writing a letter to our current President. If you have children, help them write a letter as well. This activity is a great way for you or your family to start thinking through present-day issues in the United States, such as policies you admire, policies you might disagree with and how you can best discuss these issues in a respectful manner. Share in the political discourse by writing a letter to the President expressing your views.

3. Make presidential arts and crafts.
For a family-friendly celebration, help your kiddos make presidential arts and crafts for the day, such as a patriotic flag decorating activity or Presidents’ Day bingo. Look up different crafts and activities online to see which ones your family might enjoy, then give them a try. Combine the activities with learning about Presidents’ Day, and you’re off to a great start for celebrating an altruistic holiday.

4. Give back with the military.
With the role of President comes the title of Commander in Chief, otherwise known as the head of our nation’s military. Celebrate this Presidents’ Day altruistically by giving back with our military servicemen and women. Whether you volunteer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, donate to an organization that supports the military or send out care packages to troops overseas, there are lots of different options for how to give back.

5. Clean up the community.
Cleaning up the community and neighborhoods near you is the perfect way to commemorate Presidents’ Day. While the President is the head of the executive branch for the federal government, he or she can also play a role in state or even local governments. Your local government matters, so show your appreciation by giving back and volunteering to clean up the surrounding area.

6. Collect donations for a charity.
Finally, commemorate today by collecting donations from others around you and give to a local charity in recognition of Presidents’ Day. See what organizations are involved with government, the military or a cause you care about and donate in celebration of the holiday.

This Presidents’ Day, do more to get involved and give back. Learn the history behind the holiday, get involved with current issues and give back to your community. Lead a more altruistic life and celebrate today with your friends and family.

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Give Love this Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. With pink hearts floating around everywhere, chocolate on every shelf and couples swooning, love is in the air. For some, Valentine’s Day is the perfect chance to remind their sweet significant other how much they love them. For others, Valentine’s Day can be a frustrating holiday filled with reminders of icky, annoying romantic love.

No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, one thing is clear: Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to live a more altruistic lifestyle. Valentine’s Day can be more than just romantic love, but true, kind, caring love for your neighbors and those in need. How can you lead a more altruistic life this week? Here’s how you can give love to others this Valentine’s Day.

1. Deliver valentines.
For some, Valentine’s Day can be a difficult time, reminding them of loved ones lost. Help spread some love this Valentine’s Day with your family by creating unique valentines to give out to others. Spend some time in arts and crafts and really make them shine with kind, caring words of encouragement. Then, give the valentines out to others—such as your neighbors, those in your community or those living in local shelters. You and your family will have fun making the valentines, and you’ll have an even better time giving them out to brighten other people’s days.

2. Buy gifts that give back.
We get it: Valentine’s Day involves a lot of gifts. There’s gifts for your significant other, of course, but maybe you’re the type of person who also likes to give Valentine’s gifts to your mom, or your kids, just for fun. If you’re a big Valentine’s Day gift giver, then consider choosing a more altruistic route and buying gifts that give back. For instance, choose fair trade gifts, that ensure those who make them earn a living wage; or, consider a charity gift card, which gives a portion of your purchases to a nonprofit organization. Or, donate to your partner’s favorite local charity and help make a difference in his or her name.

3. Go red and give blood.
We all know that red tends to be a favorite color during the Valentine’s Day season. This week, show how much you care about others by really going red and give blood. According to the American Red Cross, your donation can actually save up to three lives. That’s a whole lot of love to give this Valentine’s Day.

4. Pay it forward.
If you want to spread love that keeps on giving, pay it forward this week. Do something kind for a stranger that can’t be paid back, and ask them to pay it forward to another stranger in the future. For example, try paying for someone’s coffee in line behind you, or pick up the tab for a couple at the restaurant. Ask them to pay it forward and know that your good deed will not go unnoticed as it ripples throughout the community.

5. Volunteer with a cause.
Finally, one significant way to give love this Valentine’s Day is by volunteering with a cause you care about. After the holiday season cools off, a lot of nonprofit organizations can struggle trying to find more volunteers or raise other donations. You can help make an impact by getting involved with an organization in your community this week and for weeks to come. Celebrate your Valentine’s Day the altruistic way by showing others in need you care.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be about romantic love. This Valentine’s Day, live an altruistic lifestyle by giving love to others around you. Whether it’s through giving gifts, getting involved or going to help, you can make a difference in your community and spread love to everyone this week.

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Commemorating Black History Month

Happy February! This month is filled with joy, love and excitement as we take one step further into the new year and look toward the upcoming spring and summer. February tends to be very well-known for one specific holiday: Valentine’s Day. In honor Saint Valentine himself, Valentine’s Day celebrates love and romance in our lives.

But even more special than one single day is what the entire month of February stands for: Black History Month. Black History Month is a time to remember, celebrate and commemorate the achievements and contributions by African-American men and women throughout U.S. history. When living an altruistic lifestyle, how can we take steps to truly honor Black History Month and those it recognizes? Let’s take a look at the history behind Black History Month and some ideas for how to commemorate it.

Studying Black History Month
The concept of Black History month first originated from historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). As a young scholar, Woodson noticed the misrepresentation of African Americans in history books, or complete omission of their history altogether.

In 1926, Woodson announced the second week of February would be designated as “Negro History Week.” This week was first chosen because it coincided with the birthdate of Abraham Lincoln on February 12th, and Frederick douglass on February 14th, both of which were already celebrated by many African American communities.

During the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, African Americans began to reclaim pride in their history and cultural identity. By 1976, African Americans had begun to completely embrace their heritage and celebrate other African Americans who had made significant contributions throughout history.

As part of the United States’ bicentennial celebration that year, the month of February was then officially declared as Black History Month in 1976. Other countries soon followed suit, such as the United Kingdom in 1987 and Canada in 1995. Dr. Woodson and his efforts had left an unforgettable mark on history, one we continue to celebrate today through Black History Month.

Commemorating Black History Month
Woodson himself once stated, “If race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” We can help maintain this tradition by taking steps to properly honor Black History Month. This February, take some time to learn more about Black History Month, its origins and some of the individuals it honors, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Langston Hughes.

Learn about celebrated people in the African American community, and share about them with your friends and family. Watch films dedicated to black culture, listen to historically black music, read books and poetry by black authors or try new foods with historically black recipes. Most importantly, learn about some of the issues African Americans might still face in U.S. culture today. Have respectful, open-communication dialogues with individuals who may or may not look like you, and take this month as an opportunity to learn and grow in community.

No matter your race, Black History Month is an important time to celebrate the accomplishments of African American individuals. This February, use this time as a chance to look back and recognize how far the United States has come in racial inequality, and how far we still have to go. The month of February is about more than a romantic dinner and some candy: it’s about fully understanding all of U.S. history, and taking steps toward a better future.