“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s inevitable that whenever we take the time to help someone in need, we leave the experience feeling rejuvenated and hopeful. We’ve been so inspired by how our city has come together after Harvey, and we know that there are still many people who need our support. Whether or not you live in Houston or somewhere else that has been affected recently by a natural disaster, your community needs you. Here are a few ways you can jump in and lend a hand.

This past weekend our family participated in a Heroes for Children pumpkin patch event. It was so uplifting to spend a day with these families during an activity that helped take their minds off of their difficult circumstances. Heroes for Children provides assistance to families with children battling cancer, and many of these families in Houston are also dealing with the aftermath of losing their homes during Harvey. It’s tough to imagine what they are going through, and we can only hope to make a small difference in their lives.

There are so many wonderful organizations out there, and it’s important to select one that speaks to you. Research local nonprofits that contribute to a cause you are passionate about, and find a way to get involved. Most likely your volunteer work will positively impact your life in a way that you could not have imagined.

Clean Out Your Closet
It’s time to dust off your sweaters and outerwear, which means it’s also an ideal time for a thorough closet edit. Start a donation pile and sort through your wardrobe piece by piece. Any item that you haven’t worn in a year or more goes into the donation bag. Do the same for your family members as well, and take a large haul to a Salvation Army or Goodwill. This is an easy way to give to people in need, and it’s also refreshing to do a seasonal closet purge.

Organize a Neighborhood Community Service Activity
Our neighborhood has organized various events – like an outdoor block party – to raise money for Harvey relief funds. Gathering with a large group of neighbors and friends to support a cause is an easy, fun way to make a significant contribution. If your neighborhood doesn’t already have a community service activity in the works, jump in there and get the ball rolling! It’s a great way to meet new friends who live close by and to restore a sense of community that is so easily lost these days with social media distracting us from offline interactions with others.

Participate in a Book Drive
A staggering percentage of children in low income areas do not have access to books. In Houston, there is approximately one book available for every 300 children in low income areas, while children in middle and high income families have access to at least 13 on average in their own homes. This means that thousands of children are already behind when they start the school year. There are many local programs that collect and donate new or used books to families and libraries in low income areas. One easy way you can better your community and help the next generation have access to reading materials is to organize a group of friends, gather as many books as possible, and drop them off at a nearby library, school, or nonprofit that facilitates these donations.

Join a Young Professionals Group
If you’re in that stage of life, join a YP Group at an organization you feel strongly about. You’ll be contributing to a worthwhile cause while having a great time at galas, happy hours, cook offs and other social events. These are fantastic groups to join right after college, especially if you’re moving to a new city and looking to make new friends.

We’d love to hear other ways you give back to your community! Please share your ideas in the comments below.