Spring is a time when nature gives everything back. We regain daylight. The leaves on the trees come back, flowers bloom again, and warmer weather returns. (So do potholes, but I’ll blame those on semi-trailers.)
Spring is also a good time for us to give back.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas for sharing your time and generosity with others, so that you can make a real difference for all the people and places around you.
- Contribute to Bookstock 2019 in April. The Bookstock Used Book & Media Sale is a community service project for the donation of gently used books, audiobooks, records, CDs and DVDs. Buy some great books for as little as 50 cents or a dollar each to support education and literacy projects in Metro Detroit and beyond. The entire process of collecting and sorting books and media, organizing and staffing the sale is 100 percent driven by volunteers. I’ll be there on April 7 and then again with my mom, Sue Morse, on April 9. Stop by and say hi!
- Plant a lawn library. I love libraries, and the lawn libraries I’ve seen popping up in my own neighborhood are great! Set up a Little Free Library on your front lawn, a small, glass-doored, waterproof cabinet filled with books. Any neighbor can take a book and replace it with one that he or she has finished reading, so the library offers a constant variety of free al fresco reading materials. You can build this box-on-a-post or buy one online. This is a great way to meet your neighbors.
- Organize a block yard sale. I’m the father of three daughters. Seems I’m always finding boxes in my basement filled with old stuff that they’ve outgrown. Spring is a good time to purge it! Gather furniture, clothes, electronics and equipment from your garage and attic and from your neighbors for a different type of weekend block party. Donate the proceeds to neighborhood projects, from curbside plantings to musical instruments for local school kids.
- Do all you can for the Michigan Humane Society. I am such a big fan and supporter of MHS and all of the great work they do. Watch for me on Channel 4 this spring and summer during the All 4 Pets segments. I will even pay your adoption fees! If you can’t commit to an adoption right now – there are lots of other ways to give back! Volunteer to help walk the dogs, socialize the cats or help out at events. You might even consider becoming an “In-Home Hero” short-term foster parent for a furry friend or two that need a little extra TLC before they are ready for adoption.
- Chaperone a school field trip. Again, with three daughters, I’ve gone on lots of field trips over the years. Spring is a favorite time for students to get out of a stuffy school building and visit natural sites, museums or civic institutions. Teachers always appreciate more chaperones to help the kids enjoy their visit and to answer questions about the location (beyond, “Are we there yet?”).
- Help coach a local youth soccer or baseball team. Frequently, the chance for neighborhood kids to enjoy the camaraderie and fun of a sports team is limited because of a lack of coaches and assistants. Volunteer your time to help out on the field. Who knows, you may even get in a little more exercise!
- Join with your neighbors. You can contribute to your closest community with an action as simple as participating in a neighborhood watch or as impactful as speaking before your city council on behalf of a neighborhood association. If you’re not the group type, you can help by checking in on your neighbors who may need assistance in getting out of the house after a long winter. Who doesn’t love smelling Michigan’s fresh, spring air?
- Help build a house. Habitat for Humanity reports that, in Michigan alone last year, thousands of its volunteers in 60 affiliates across the state built 55 new homes, rehabbed 48 houses and made 625 home repairs. Grab a paintbrush or a hammer and pitch in to help create new, affordable home ownership opportunities in your community. My entire law firm was involved in a great Habitat home renovation project a couple of years ago, and we’ll do more in the future. It was a tremendously inspiring experience.
- Beautify your community. You’ll discover lots of ways that you can make a difference in your community’s appearance. Volunteer to remove graffiti or paint a mural on a building. Adopt a flowerbed, filling it with flowers and keeping it clean and tidy. Clean up and reclaim an abandoned space or park, or become a volunteer at a state or national park in the area.
- Contribute to or participate directly in natural-disaster relief. Floods in the Midwest, wildfires in our forests or devastating tornados in our cities can require years of recovery efforts. Volunteer to help restore natural environments and rebuild structures, or donate to food banks and charitable groups providing essentials to the victims of natural disasters.
You’ll discover many other ways you can give back this spring at websites like Inc., Money Crashers, the Corporation for National and Community Service and Smart About Money.
You’ll find that warm feeling is coming from so much more than the extra hours of sunshine.