Summer is the unofficial lazy time of year. The days are long, the weather is inviting, and schoolwork is a quickly fading memory. Summer is also an opportune time to pay it forward. Here are several simple ways to pay it forward in summer:
Donate to your local food bank. This is so incredibly important during the summer months, when school is not in session. There are too many children who get their only meal of the day during school hours on the free and reduced fee lunch programs. (I often think about this on snow days too, the children who may not eat because of poor weather conditions.) When school is out for months at a time there is much more of a demand on food banks to fill those meals. Yet this also tends to be a time of year when fewer donations are made, so it is a vital opportunity for paying it forward.
Give the gift of sunscreen. If you have sunscreen on you and you see someone who could use it, why not share? Not only does sunburn hurt badly, but as recently noted it could lead to skin cancer later on. If food is scarce for many in the summer months, you can imagine that in some areas sunscreen is scarce as well. Consider donating sunscreen to a local food bank, shelter, or other local program.
Reduce your water and electricity use. In the summer months, we tend to crank up the air conditioning and break out the hose or sprinklers. While this helps keep us comfortable and our lawns green, it is very taxing on the environment (as well as our electricity bills). Think of ways to keep your usage levels down, such as: unplugging items when not in use, keeping windows open in the evenings, keeping lights off during the daytime, and taking quicker, cooler showers during the warm summer months.
Take a lifeguard course. There was an important article recently saying that drowning does not necessarily look like what we may envision. Even if you do not plan to be a lifeguard, you may still be able to save a life. Read about drowning online. Whether you are planning to become a lifeguard one day or have way passed the age of lifeguarding, aren’t those good skills for everyone to know in case of an emergency?
Host a lemonade stand for charity. Join Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and host your own lemonade stand for charity. Ten years ago, young Alex Scott issued her lemonade stand challenge to the nation by encouraging people everywhere to hold lemonade stands to help fight childhood cancer. National Lemonade Days is an annual June tradition that raises over $1 million for childhood cancer research. Although it is an annual June tradition, lemonade stands are made by children and families around the nation all year long to help raise funds for childhood cancer, so if June does not work best for you then consider July or August instead.
Use greener lawn and tree care products. These days we are taking better care of our bodies, eating healthier and exercising more often. We are shopping organic. We are using natural products. We are taking vitamins. Well, we are making more of an effort to do so, at least. Yet at the very same time, we are spraying the trees and weeds on our lawns with harsh chemicals, then letting our children and families run around outside in the yard. Dandelions generally do not hurt anyone, but pesticides sure can. Use organic products to take care of your lawn or easily make your own organic weed killer. It is healthier for the earth, the air, and our children.
Clean up. Whether it is the neighborhood, a local park or somewhere else in your community, summer is a great time to get outside and clean. Pick up trash and throw it away. Recycle empty water bottles that are left on the ground. Wipe away graffiti. Not only will you be greening the neighborhood but you will be making it even prettier. Hopefully, your efforts will also encourage other people to keep the area cleaner in the future.
Do a family fun run or bike ride for charity. Whether you love to bike, run, walk, or just want to get just a little more exercise, there is likely a charitable event happening near you this summer. Consider joining as a participant or even as a volunteer. You can find the events on flyers around town, in your local newspaper, and on Active.com.
Donate your time. Speaking of participating as a volunteer, consider ways to donate your time during the summer months when the weather is better and school is not in session. For parents, doing volunteer work as a family is a great way to create memories together while showing children the value of paying it forward. If an active event such as a 5k is not for you, then look online, call your township, or contact a local charitable organization to find events in your area that matter most to your family.
Clean out closets and pantries. How does this seemingly tedious task pay it forward, you ask? Well, when you clean out closets and pantries chances are that you might find a few things you don’t need anymore or won’t be using. These can be donated to people who can use them and who will be grateful for your donation. You can call a charitable organization to come pick up your items, or bring them to a local shelter. It may also make your home a little neater, and that can never be a bad thing, right?
Check on elderly neighbors, especially during those sweltering hot days. Maybe they could use some help with their home, with getting food and supplies, with caring for their pets, or something else. Even if they do not need anything at that moment, just knowing that you are there for them is helpful in itself.
What are your favorite ways to pay it forward in summer?