It’s a new year and the slate is clean. We want 2017 to be the best year yet. Will you join us in creating joy by pledging to improve as many lives as you can? Here are 5 easy ways that you can get started:
1. Smile at a stranger.
You never know what kind of day someone else may be having. Smile at someone who looks a little down – it could potentially reverse the way they see life in that moment. Smiling uses fewer muscles than frowning, and it is usually contagious. Josh, a ten-year veteran volunteer with the food bank, will make sure you smile when you come to visit us.
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
– Mother Teresa
2. Pay it forward at a drive-thru or check-out line.
Have you ever been ready to make a purchase and then realized that you left your wallet at home? Did someone cover you, or did you leave empty-handed? Next time you go to a drive-thru, ask to cover the person’s order behind you. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing, but what about $5? They may really need it. Or, if they decide to pay it forward, the person behind them may really need it. Everyone can benefit from unexpected kindness. The food bank (and food bank clients) definitely benefited when a generous stranger recently ‘paid it forward’ and purchased groceries for one of our Food Wise client cooking classes.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
3. Start a conversation with someone in a line, waiting room, or during repetitive work.
Most people dread going to the doctor, the post office, or the D.M.V. because of the long wait with strangers in a small space. The end result isn’t that exciting unless you are getting your first driver’s license. How about this? Instead of sitting (or standing) in awkward silence, strike up a conversation with a fellow visitor. Not only will it help pass the time, it can relax you and put you both in a better mood. This opportunity also exists when you volunteer at the food bank. Start a conversation with a fellow volunteer or staff member while sorting through the thousands of pounds of food that come through our warehouse weekly. You just might make a friend for life.
“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”
– William Butler Yeats
4. Offer unsolicited assistance.
Next time you are at the store, take a look around. Is there anyone who looks like they could use some assistance? Perhaps an elderly woman is struggling with heavy bags or a single father is trying to keep his three toddlers contained while buying groceries. Most people will be grateful for a little help, and they might even return the favor when they see you next. The food bank always has opportunities to offer assistance. Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and some can lift heavy items while others cannot. It’s truly a beautiful scene when someone offers to help carry a heavy load without even needing to be asked.
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Volunteering is a great way to spread joy and improve the lives of others. Many nonprofits only have a few paid staff and depend on volunteers to operate. Hays County Food Bank is one such nonprofit – we have a staff of 7 full-time employees and 1 part-time employee. In 2016, 2,185 volunteers helped provide food to ~8,500 food insecure individuals each month. Imagine all the joy their dedication created. Let’s try and double that joy this year!
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.