3 Ways to Give to Your Community On a Budget - America's Future

April 8, 2021


3 Ways to Give to Your Community On a Budget

By: Krista Mitchell

Being a young professional with a tight budget is challenging. We all want to feel like Elle Woods, rocking  designer handbags and high heels after winning our first big court case. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re sporting an affordable purse and finding the cutest and comfiest shoes  at a reasonable price. Sticking to a budget and being frugal is important. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your passions—especially community service.

Charity work has always been a passion of mine, and I think it’s both important and easily forgotten when you’re young. You don’t have to be a high-level donor to make a difference in your community. There are 3 big ways you can make a difference without breaking the bank.

1: Donate your time! Even if it’s just an hour a month. 

This may be painfully obvious, but volunteering your time is one of the best ways you can give back to your community. It’s also zero cost money wise, so it doesn’t pressure you to give outside your means. 

There are so many different ways you can volunteer: serve food and pack lunches at a food bank, help deliver groceries to those in need, serve meals to the homeless, write cards or put together packages for Veterans and active duty service members, and much more.

In my hometown, I used to love packing lunches at Three Square Food Bank, which provides meals to families in need in Southern Nevada. If you’re in the DC area, an excellent opportunity to volunteer is with Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington. Every evening, they offer 3 meal servings to homeless and low-income individuals. You can sign up to volunteer to help here. If you’d like to volunteer with other organizations, write out a list of places you’d like to support and look up their opportunities for service. 

2: Create an online donation campaign for a local service group.

If you are unable to donate your time physically, another great option is to create an online donation campaign for a local community service organization. You’ve probably seen friends do this before on Facebook for their birthdays, but it’s  actually a growing tool for fundraising. There are several different sites you can choose from, including GoFundMe, DoSomething.org, or open Facebook, go to the fundraisers tab, and hit “raise money.” It’s generally pretty simple and easy to use these sites, and you can share it widely with friends, family, or others seeking to help their community. 

3: Donate items for people in need.

Most food pantries, religious groups, and organizations that support those in need accept donations of food, commonly used toiletries, etc. And luckily for those of us on a budget who want to support these folks, these items tend to be less expensive. Go through your pantry or head to your local grocery store, and pick up a few cans of beans, rice, corn, soups, fruit, etc. Toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes, and toothpastes are also commonly needed personal hygiene items. Additionally, many women’s shelters are in constant need of sanitary products like tampons. 

Some organizations even have Amazon lists of specific items they need which makes it even easier to donate. During the pandemic, The St. Lucy Food Project of Arlington, Virginia provided children with meals that didn’t have access to breakfasts and lunches during school closures, and they have an Amazon list. You simply pick out what products you’d like to donate, make sure you update the mailing address to the charity’s location, and hit send. 

It’s never been easier to support those in need. Young professionals in particular should try to find ways to give back to their communities. There are so many other ways to help that doesn’t involve large monetary donations. If you’re looking to give back, especially during and after the pandemic, consider these three options to assist people in need.