New Year’s resolutions help create a guide for how someone is going to make the current year better than the last. Many people put “volunteering” on their list of resolutions. So, start 2020 off on the right foot by resolving to make the world a better place one act of kindness at a time. Commit to making a difference in Dane County and across Wisconsin.

Here are some specific was to give back to the community you live in.

Be a Mentor 

Youth are in such great need of positive role models and people who will take the time to invest in them. They need people that mentor not because they have to, but because they genuinely care about the child.  Kids go through a lot each day, and having someone who will sit down and talk, read, help with homework, play sports or any other activity really goes a long way in their self-esteem and overall success.  Besides, January is National Mentoring Month.

Make Family a Priority

Make every effort to spend more time with the people closest to you. Schedule out playdates, dinner times and adventures with your friends and family to be together. It’s one thing to hope to spend more time with family, but actually making a plan to spend time together is the best way to make sure it gets done. Spending more time with your family builds a solid foundation of love and comradery for years to come.

Host a Food or Clothing Drive

Anyone can hold a food or clothing drive.  You can reach out to your church, neighborhood, school and clubs or groups you are involved in to rally together to try to collect food or clothing for local organizations.  This is a great way to give back to the community, while also helping your friends and family who may be getting ready to ‘spring clean’ their closets or cupboards.

Create A Pay It Forward Chain

Ever consider starting a pay it forward chain? Pay for someone’s coffee in line behind you at a coffee house or spend a little extra to help the next person buy their gas. This year, you can have a huge impact on a variety of people’s lives by taking little steps every day to live more altruistically. Give back to individuals around you by paying it forward.

Be a Coach 

Many youth groups need people to help coach their teams.  Volunteer coaches are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations, especially in the area of sports.  If you have knowledge, or even just a heart for sports or youth, then this could be a great opportunity for you to give back to your community in a meaningful way that is also fun for you.

Donate Blood

Giving blood is a simple and effective way to live altruistically and support those around you. Whether you give to a community blood bank or a national chain is up to you, but giving ensures you can help others. Next time a blood drive is happening in your community this year, sign up on the list. Your single donation can help save up to three lives this year.

Give in Someone’s Honor

What better way to show your appreciation of others than by doing some kind in their name? It is a lovely gesture; the organization benefits, and the honoree is touched or remembered.

Start Your Own Fundraiser

Start a new tradition of giving. Try hosting an inaugural dinner party and encourage guests to donate to your fundraiser page for a seat at the table. Celebrate Wisconsin’s frigid temperatures by opening a hot cocoa stand outside your home or place of worship – then whip up some hot chocolate for a good cause! Or, simply ask friends and loved ones to encourage you by donating to your fundraiser.

Monthly Giving

Monthly giving is often talked about in terms of how many lattes you have to give up in exchange to provide a certain number of meals or school supplies to someone in need, but why not instead think of all the things you gain with your monthly donation? Supporting organizations can fill you with much hope and pride. Your pledge of an ongoing gift can genuinely transform lives.

Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also the National Day of Service, so it’s a great time to volunteer to clean up a park or help at an animal shelter. And research shows that pitching in regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure. So, use this day to jumpstart a longer-term personal commitment throughout the year.