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Giving Back While Going Back to School

Happy back-to-school season! You can almost smell it in the air—the scents of freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new shoes out of the box and eraser shavings fill your nose. Summer is quickly coming to an end, and parents everywhere are eagerly—or not so eagerly—getting their kids out the front door and into the school building.

There are plenty of things which go along with the start of school—shopping for supplies, new haircuts and maybe even signing up for a club. Of course, one thing which usually accompanies the beginning of the school season are fundraisers. Fundraisers are an important way to give back to your school and raise money to support causes you care about. However, fundraisers aren’t the only way to get involved. Here are a few ideas we had for how to give back while going back to school.

1. Share extra supplies.
While you’re out shopping for school supplies with your children this year, why not look around and see what extra items you can pick up? Donate any extra items you find to your student’s classroom for those students who might not be able to afford their own supplies. Oftentimes, teachers have to dip into their own pocket to provide school items for students in need, so you can help both a student and a teacher by sharing any extra supplies you have.

2. Help a teacher out.
Speaking of helping a teacher, why not take the extra steps to help a teacher out this school year? We’re not talking about simply volunteering, but about truly doing something special for the teacher. Surprise your student’s teacher with a small gift to start the year, a little treat or even an uplifting note letting them know how much they are appreciated. Small gestures like these are a great way to give back and help a teacher as the school year starts.

3. Cut out box tops.
If your school participates in the Box Tops for Education program, get involved and give back simply by cutting out box tops. Cut out box tops from different food brands and save them to add to your school’s collection. At $0.10 per Box Top, the money you give to the school can quickly add up. In fact, over 80,000 elementary and middle schools have earned money through the Box Tops for Education program, which they used to buy necessary equipment and supplies for students. Join the efforts by cutting out and supplying your own box tops.

4. Write thank you notes.
Being an educator can often be a thankless job. Give back this back-to-school season by simply writing thank you notes to your student’s teachers, principal, janitor, etc. Show your appreciation for the hard work they do by giving a few words of encouragement. Not only will you brighten their day, but you can brighten your own simply by sharing kind words with others.

5. Bring treats.
Everyone loves treats! Check with your school to see which treats the teacher allows in his or her classroom. If food is allowed, offer up some delicious treats to welcome the students back for the school year. If allergens might be a problem, go a different route with the treats, such as with a pack of pencils, erasers or stickers. Bringing treats can be a great way to give back by welcoming everyone back for the school year.

6. Volunteer your time.
Teachers are always looking for adults to get involved and volunteer with the classroom. See how you can give back and make a difference by volunteering your time with a student’s classroom. Maybe that looks like helping to organize the room, take students on a field trip or even monitor a school dance. However you can get involved, see what you can do to give back.

As we head back to school this season, be intentional about how you can give back to your student’s teacher, classroom and school. Living an altruistic life doesn’t just stop with those closest to us; it keeps going and growing to help support other family and friends in our lives. Show your support for others by using these tips to give back while going back to school.

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10 Simple Ways to Bring Others Joy

Diplomat, activist and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” If you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle, you should spend a significant portion of your time committed to the wellbeing of others. 

This commitment doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, like organizing a fundraiser or volunteering hours on end. Instead, living an altruistic lifestyle simply means bringing joy to others in your life. Whether they’re your closest family or a complete stranger, there are lots of simple ways to bring joy to others every single day. So, we came up with 10.

1. Smile.
One of the easiest ways to bring others joy is simply by smiling at them. When we see others show us a genuine, kind smile, we feel relaxed and energized, and want to smile back. Smiles naturally bring out happiness in us, so why not spread some cheer with your smile?

2. Give a compliment.
When was the last time you received a genuine compliment? When was the last time that compliment was from a stranger? Make an effort to give true compliments to people you come in contact with, whether it’s remarking on someone’s shoes, or applauding their intelligence.

3. Remember your manners.
Sometimes the simplest things we can do to bring others joy is remembering our manners from when we were children. Be sure to say please, thank you, hold doors open, etc. Showing a little manners here and there goes a long way in making others feel valued.

4. Do the dirty work.
If you’ve ever worked with a group of people, you know that sometimes there are those “dirty jobs” which no one wants to do—for instance, the dishes. Bring others joy and show them you care by doing the necessary dirty work with a smile.

5. Help someone out.
Whether it’s your best friend, your neighbor or a total stranger, bring others joy by helping them out. Ask how you can help improve their day; or, look for ways they might need help, but don’t feel comfortable asking. Make a conscious effort to consistently support others in need.

6. Write a thank you note.
Of course, when someone helps you, write a thank you note. Nowadays, genuine, handwritten thank you notes are few and far between. Show someone how much they mean to you by writing, stamping and sending a real, handwritten thank you note.

7. Be kind online.
The Internet in particular can be an especially joyless place. Instead, make an effort to be kind online, and share joyful, inspiring messages with your followers. Avoid negative comments and posts, and choose to flood friends’ feeds with positivity in the world.

8. Spend time with someone.
Many people experience love through quality time with another. Show people in your life how much they mean to you by spending time with them. Whether you take your child to a museum or visit your grandparent, spending time with others is the perfect way to bring them joy.

9. Volunteer your time.
If you truly want to help make an impact on strangers around you, find a cause or organization you care about that you can get involved with. Volunteer your time, talents and energy to help make a difference and bring joy to others in your community.

10. Donate a gift.
Finally, if you have the means, consider donating a financial gift to a nonprofit organization that’s important to you. Financial gifts make a genuine difference for others who need valuable services, so you can be confident that your gift brings joys to those around you.

If you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle, there are lots of ways you can bring joy to others around you. Give some of these a try and look for more ways you can brighten people’s days.

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Surprising Life Benefits of Donating

When it comes to living an altruistic lifestyle, there are plenty of ways to show you care for others. Whether you choose to volunteer your time, get involved in the community or even commit time to strengthening your relationships, living an altruistic life provides many ways to impact others around you.

One way you can emphasize altruism within your life is by committing to donate to nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations and charities around the world make an impact on their communities and cause through the generous donations they receive. If you live an altruistic life and donate to an organization or cause you care about, you might be surprised to find these life benefits from financial donating.

Find more pleasure.
Studies across the board have consistently shown donating financial gifts can actually increase your pleasure and joy in life. One research study conducted by the National Institute of Health gave participants $100 each. When participants chose to donate a portion of their money, they experienced heightened and activated pleasure centers in the brain than those who did not. This means more often than not, donating money actually makes you feel better.

Bring meaning to life.
Why can donating help you find more pleasure? Because it creates a new sense of meaning in life. When you donate money to an important cause, you create a true impact on those in need around you, which infuses your everyday life with a heightened sense of purpose.

Protect your community.
Giving to local community organizations also provides important safety nets, which guarantee assistance for those in need around you. Many community organizations receive most of their funding from smaller, private donations. These groups can have the most significant impact on building up your community members and fostering a better environment for the future.

Improve your health.
Speaking of benefits, donating to a cause has actually been shown to improve your physical health, as well. People who volunteer and give consistently score better in measurements of overall health than those who do not. Additionally, knowing you make an impact can also improve your self-esteem and self-worth, helping to lower depression rates.

Reduce your stress.
With depression often comes stress, which can also be reduced through the simple act of giving. Recently, researchers at John Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee found charitable givers often experience lower rates of stress and reduced blood pressure levels compared to their counterparts who do not give. By improving your happiness and health through giving and serving others, you can also reduce your stress levels.

Learn money management.
If you struggle to maintain a budget, giving can help you learn important money management skills. By setting up a recurring donation every month, you can feel even more motivated to attend to your finances and ensure you don’t fall behind or default. By paying attention to giving, you also pay attention to your bank account, and help learn better money management.

Get a tax deduction.
Finally, one of the most popular reasons to give: getting a tax deduction. If you give to an IRS-approved charity, you can write off any donations you make on your tax return. While it might not be the most important reason to give, it certainly doesn’t hurt to save a little extra money in the long run—and help others at the same time.

There are lots of ways to live an altruistic lifestyle and help those around you. One important way you can get involved is by giving a financial gift to an organization or a cause you care about. Not only can you be sure to help those in your community, but you can also enjoy the many benefits which come from giving.

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Four Ideas to Celebrate Family Fun Month

Happy August! As the last month of summer, August brings with it a time of sunshine, summer days and of course, preparing your family for the upcoming school year. As the days begin to get shorter, you might feel like the opportunities for summer activities are starting to dwindle. However, you could not be further from the truth.

In fact, the month of August recognizes National Family Fun Month, which means it’s the perfect time to get out in the warm summer heat and celebrate family-fun activities together. National Family Fun Month was created as a reason to embrace and make time for extra fun with your family this summer. If you want to take advantage of the last summer days and commemorate Family Fun Month with your loved ones, here are four ideas to celebrate this August.

1. Find activities outside.
As summer comes to a close, use the month of August to find and enjoy as many activities outside as possible with your family. For instance, try packing a picnic to go benefit from an evening in the park. Or, take a trip to your local amusement park for a day full of fun and laughter. You could even consider going on a camping trip to really embrace the last few days of heat this summer. August is the perfect month to take as many opportunities to be outside as possible, whether it’s swimming in the pool or going putt-putting. In just a few short weeks, fall will be here, followed quickly by winter, and the time to be outside will come to a close. So, use National Family Fun Month as an opportunity to embrace family fun activities out in the sun.

2. Attend classes.
Lots of businesses and organizations will offer a variety of different classes over the summer months. While some of these might just be for children, there are also those that get the whole family involved. Check in your community for any classes you could do together with your kiddos. For instance, why not take a cooking class at your local grocery store, or a woodworking class at a hardware store? You could also check with local nonprofit organizations and see what types of classes they might offer, such as art or a writing workshop. Not only can your family have a ton of fun by attending these classes, but you can also learn something new together in the process.

3. Go to events in the community.
Speaking of attending classes, as summer winds down to a close, so do some of the events going on in the community. Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer by going to as many community events as possible with your family. Perhaps there’s an upcoming county fair, a street market or even an outdoor concert put on by a local business. Many of these events are low-cost admission, or might be completely free altogether for a family. Keep up to date and check which events are going on in your community, then celebrate National Family Fun Month by attending them with your loved ones.

4. Get involved with volunteering.
Finally, one of the best ways to have fun this August and teach your children valuable life skills is by getting involved through volunteering with your community. Learn about an important cause or organization near you and see how you can give back by volunteering. Whether you serve food at a mission, donate clothes to an organization or pass out flyers for an event, volunteering together as a family can be a fun and rewarding experience as you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle. Not to mention, you can also make a genuine impact on those people living in your community. See what volunteering opportunities are near you and get involved by serving others this Family Fun Month.

Family Fun Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the end of the summer before your children head back to school. Take advantage of these creative and altruistic ideas in order to have the best Family Fun Month possible this August.