If you’re like me, you are pretty fulfilled in your career, but there is still a desire to do… more.
Do you ever sit at your desk wishing that your role might help the greater good?
I used to imagine that someday I could run a charity, work for the Red Cross in an impoverished country, or help provide computers to children who could not afford them. I wanted to add a contribution to the world, but where could I find the time in my daily life? I had a family and commitments and responsibilities. There was no way I was heading off to Africa.
I began to wonder what else I could do, while still doing my day job. I have often found that when you open yourself up to an idea, the thing you want comes to you. Here is a way I found to make a big impact with a simple solution.
Confession: I hate to see things go to waste. I look at everything as a puzzle and frequently, I see surplus in one place while there is need in another place – Supply and Demand Re-Imagined. When a surplus is identified, I ask “How do we reallocate the surplus and get it to people who are in dire need?”
Over the years, I have found that certain “disposable” items that we encounter all the time can be used by charities and schools for fundraisers and to help the less fortunate. I started to collect them around my home and then donate them. And then I thought what if I could encourage others in my circle to join me?
Since I regularly work at a small, remote office, I had no “office” where I could make collections, but I never lost the vision that I would someday be able to run a project like this. But how?
Breakthrough #1: In the check-out line at my local WalMart, I serendipitously met a woman purchasing a large pile of children’s pajamas. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she was buying the pajamas for $1 each (from clearance) and planned to distribute them at the local housing projects in our city. She and her sister had started their own non-profit (gcc-strong.org) to get needed household items and food directly to families in my city, Nashua NH.
I mentioned to her that I collect up hotel sundries when I travel, but since my move to Nashua NH, I hadn’t found a charity where I could donate. A few days later, I dropped 4-5 bags of sundries to her home and she created Holiday Gift Bags for the families in the housing projects. This was a huge inspiration for me! I now had a channel to donate to people who were truly in need (aka – Demand)!
- Imagine a teenager who has very little, but once in a while they get a high end hair product to use. It makes me smile.
- Some of the disposables I collect – Individual-Sized Hotel Sundries, BoxTops for Education and Metal Can Tops. See the project plan here.
Breakthrough #2: I was teaching at a personal development school (rhysthomasinstitute.com) and I asked the founder if I could run a Donations Project through the school. And he agreed!! Now, I had a new channel to increase the Supply.
We announced the effort on the school Facebook page prior to our regular training weekend and reminded people at the beginning of the session. I placed a collection bin outside of my classroom with a simple sign – which was pretty pathetic and kept falling off the wall. It didn’t matter that my efforts were “rustic”. Each day, the donations grew and grew. And grew… by the end of the weekend the bin was so heavy, I needed a luggage carrier to get it to my car. It was a success!
Not only was I happy, but it was amazing how happy the contributors were as well. With a little imagination, as a group, we were about to help the less fortunate – with things we normally throw away!!! We all felt great!
What if you could be helping others while doing your day job?
Could you set up collection bins at your work and address the need of a charity?
Or is there a need and a supply that you have recognized where you can facilitate the connection?
Whatever it is, keep it simple and do it! Follow my Project Plan and get started today.
Update #1: Since the school weekend where we started the collections, several students have contacted me to say they have started collection bins at home and they will bring them to our subsequent school weekends. The wave is growing! One of these students said she had included her children in the collection project at home. The habit of collecting and donating has now been passed to a new generation. How does it get any better than this?
Update #2: My husband was recently attending a course in Georgia for the military. Most of the attendees were remote and staying at a local hotel. At the beginning of the course, they received flyers asking them to donate any unused hotel sundries to be donated to homeless veterans. While this is not my collection, it is wonderful to know that great minds think alike!!!
There are so many people in need who can benefit from what we typically throw away or leave behind.
You can make a difference!
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