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If you feel inspired to help families less fortunate than your own, opportunities to do so most likely exist in your own community. Non-profit organizations that provide food, meals, clothing or bill-paying assistance already have programs in place that may welcome your support, as do some faith-based organizations. If you know a family that you would like to help, consider what may be most helpful to their specific needs.
Organize a Drive
Organizing a food or clothing drive allows you to help several families at least, even if you don't have much to offer out of your own pantry or closet. Ask business owners around your community to allow the food- or clothing-collection boxes and explain that the items collected benefit local families. Some stores may even be able to provide the boxes for you. Place a sign on each collection box indicating what types of items you're collecting and who they will benefit -- this means making arrangements with local organizations ahead of time to distribute the goodies. Local soup kitchens, food pantries, family shelters and social-service groups are potential beneficiaries of the goods, as they can redistribute them on your behalf. If you would like to hand out the items personally, make arrangements to visit the organization during a time when needy families are present, such as during a meal or food-pantry program.
Set Up a Free Shop or Sale-less Sale
Instead of a pop-up shop selling things, make arrangements through a local school, place of worship or community service organization to set up an ongoing free store or one-time free yard sale, offering clothing or household goods to families in need. This type of assistance requires a good bit of planning and storage space, so the support of an organization such as a scout troop or worship center may result in a more successful event. The organization also helps promote and gather goods for the event. Set up an area or room at the sale location where items may be donated for a month or two in advance of the sale. Set up the collected goods on the event day much like a yard sale, inviting less fortunate families to shop for free. The families may be invited from a particular social-service organization, receiving entry tickets from other agencies that support them.
Help Families You Know
If you know of a family or two in your neighborhood that could use a little help, consider items or services that offer the most benefit. For some, it may be a gift card to a big-box store where they can purchase clothing, food and household goods all at one location. For others, a supply of pantry and kitchen staples such as cooking oil, rice, oatmeal and zippered storage bags means a lot, as these are items the families would have to purchase on their own. If you are close with the family, offer them gift cards or bagged goods personally. If the family doesn't have a vehicle, offer to drive the head of the household to the store, or even pay their entire shopping bill. Offer a few home-cooked meals if the adults are unable to handle meal preparation due to physical ailments.
Ask Businesses for Help
To help multiple families at once, collect goods such as blankets, cleaning supplies or non-perishable food items, asking local businesses to donate the items. Tell business owners or managers about your project and that the goods will be distributed to local families in need. To make your quest seem more legitimate, partner with a local social-services agency for distribution day and let the business owners know the goods will be distributed at the agency site. Businesses such as sporting goods shops and local screen-printers may have leftover samples or apparel items they cannot sell, and grocery stores and discount stores may be willing to part with non-perishable items and household supplies. Once you've collected all the goods, package them in large boxes or bags for distribution at your selected agency location.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.