Before A.P. was born, I was involved in several community organizations. I like being involved in the community, and there are scads of opportunities to choose from in this town.
Once he was born, I tried to stay involved for a while. About the time I tried to chair a board meeting while breastfeeding (the gavel-banging kept startling him) I realized that I am no Nancy Pelosi, and I might need to re-tool some things in my life.
I started looking for other ways to have a positive impact in the world. I had two criteria.
- My children could be involved, or at least have childcare provided.
- I could do it from home.
First, I love to take my children when I vote. The volunteers are so excited and nice to them, and always make sure to reward their good behavior with a sticker.
Tuesday is a Voting Day. Need to brush up on the issues? Here you go. Polls open at 7; this is a great way to show your children how to be part of the community.
I wrote a few months ago about Great Start. If you are interested in early childhood services in Kent County, you should look into this organization. A link to the Great Start website is under “Links I Like”. What I truly appreciate about this group is that they are very respectful of our time. They always have an interesting speaker and/or some giveaway for us. They provide on-site childcare that my children love and beg to go back to.
I didn’t know what Paper Gator was until I heard about it from the Thornapple Elementary School’s Environmental Club. As it turns out, my church and A.P.’s school also have Paper Gators. Rather than setting your newspapers out by the curb for recycling, just take them to the dumpster with an alligator on it and toss it in. The school (or church, or organization) gets money from the sale of the recycled paper. Need to find a bin? Check the bin locator on the Paper Gator Website.
Even less effort are the many “rewards” programs around. First is Meijer Community Rewards. A percentage of your purchase at Meijer goes back to an organization you designate. The program changed a while ago, and you now have to use a pin-based debit card or a Meijer Credit Card, which aggrivates me but it’s for a good cause. See the website for details. Check here to see which organizations participate.
D&W also has fundraising programs. During specified days, D&W will donate a percentage of sales back to your organization. See more details on the dates and how it works here. Look for your organization here.
Spartan Stores have a “Cash For Labels” program, but you will have to check with your individual organization to see if they participate. If they do, simply bringing in labels from Spartan brand products will generate funds.
A similar program is Campbell’s Labels for Education. Check with your school to see if they participate. Box Tops for Education works exactly the same way. You can check to see if your school participates here.
Just bring the boxtops into to your school, and they are redeemed for funds. Actually you should just bring the little coupon looking things and not the whole boxtop or the school secretary will get mad at you. Just trust me on this.
Let’s travel further down the spectrum of painless involvement.
If there is a particular area of community interest for you, do a little research online. You will probably find a website with legislative information, encouraging you to write to your lawmakers. If you are lucky, they will have a preformatted letter for you and you basically just fill in your personal information, and hit send. There you go; it doesn’t get any easier than that. Here is an example.
Considering the pathetically small number of people who actually participate in the political process, you get a lot of bang for your buck this way. It’s like… it’s like if Meijer had double coupons in the Grand Rapids market. We can all have a dream, can’t we?