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Ideas for
              Helping in Your Community

From the smallest gesture which can bring a smile to the biggest actions which can raise money and awareness, the ways for you to help in your community are endless. Here we list just a few ideas but we know that there are more out there. If you would like to share your ideas, please email to admin@payitforwardinmemoryofjohndye.net *.  You may notice that some items on this list are in green.  These suggestions came to us as part of our birthday tribute to John on what would have been his 49th birthday.  You can see the full “49 List” hereBig thanks to the members of the PIF Community who have helped us build this list!

Homeless/Those in Financial Hardship        Veterans/Service People        Elderly/Sick/Homebound       

Holidays         Animals        Environment        Education/Literacy        Online Life        Miscellaneous        Inspired by TBAA

Helping the homeless & those in financial hardship

~ Check to see if your local craft store allow you to knit or crochet squares to be put together to make blankets.  In some locations, the stores collect them and piece them together then take the completed quilts to shelters and nursing homes.

~ Donate to your local food pantry or homeless shelter.                                                                                                   

~ Create care packages by filling shoeboxes with toiletries for the homeless.

~ Collect sample size toiletries which can be donated to women's and children's shelters.

~ Donate jackets, coats, scarves and mittens to homeless shelters

~ Before you leave your home, make a couple of sandwiches, bring them with you, and give them to the homeless.

~ As you do your Christmas shopping, buy an extra toy or gift and donate it to a children's home, women & children's shelter, the homeless

~ Serve a meal (or several!) at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

~ Find a grocer who delivers food items to local shelters and donate though them.

~ Find a community service organisation that helps people in financial need and donate accordingly.

~ Seek out charity shops that sell food vouchers which can be handed out to the homeless and they can exchange for a hot meal.

~ Encourage your children to do their bit, find projects whereby they can collect loose change, save it in a house made out a box and then they can donate it to homeless charities  and organisations. Look up "Homes for Change".

~ Does your grocer have a food box where you can donate extra food items which are then sent to homeless shelters? If not, why not encourage them to take this up and make a difference in your community.

~ Offer to babysit at the shelter during the times when the adults are in class.

~ National Coalition for the Homeless suggests checking with your shelter to see if they would like donated books and board games so that they have something to occupy their time.

~ Check to see if your utility company allows you to add a pound/dollar to your bill which can then used to help pay for the bills of those people who struggle financially.

~ Donate teaching services for those who need help with reading, writing, filling out applications for assistance or jobs.

~Support your local thrift shop who in turn take care of those who are suffering financial hardship.

~ Making greeting cards and sell them for $2.00/£2.00 and then donate the proceeds to a local homeless shelter or sell through your local thrift shop.

~ Look for organisations which recruit volunteers to go out onto the streets and let the homeless know about their local shelters.

~ Seek out organisations which require volunteer medical staff to help with the homeless.

~ Organise a walk to raise awareness and money for your local homeless shelter.

~ Ask local small business owners if they might consider having a food drive.  Not only will it help get food to those who need it but it may also encourage shoppers to buy locally.

~ Donate your old work clothes and accessories to organizations that specialize in offering affordable wardrobe options to people trying to regain entry into the work force.  Other organizations also re-purpose wedding dresses and formal wear.

~ Host or attend a clothing swap with your friends!  Everyone can bring clothes they no longer wear and then swap to get pieces they want and will use.  It can be a great way to help out friends experiencing financial difficulty.  You can also donate all leftover clothing to shelters and other organizations.  You might also consider making a donation per item you gain to a cause.  For example, if you end with 5 "new" items for free, you might consider donating $5 per item.  It's fun, useful, and a great way to help others.

~ Buy the Big Issue (UK) to support the homeless.

~ Most of us are very blessed and we all know someone at work that is struggling just to get to work. As a RAOK for John's Birthday Tribute, do something for them, buy a strip of bus tickets for them, give then a meal coupon from a near by restaurant, put a coffee on their desk, treat them to a snack and leave it on their desk, put a hand lotion in their in box. There are any number of blessings that this person will appreciate.

~ If you know of a person needing a job and has limited or no computer access, offer to help them go on line and apply or offer to help them place a resume on line.

~ Take $5.00 or £5.00 out of your pay check and turn it into singles. Carry it with you to help if someone needs assistance.

~ Clip coupons from your local newspaper and donate them to a charity or a family that you know is in need.

Helping our veterans and service people

~ Candy has a way of reminding us all of home and happiness so collect candy to be sent to the troops.  (Non-meltable candy, please.)

Send Christmas and holiday cards to service people.  When serving, you can feel quite lonely especially on Christmas day, so knowing that somebody somewhere is thinking of you makes a huge difference. 

~ Along the same lines, you can send Christmas cards to your local VA hospital or veterans' club. 

~ Volunteer your time at the local VA hospital.  Disabled veterans especially deserve our time and attention.

~ Check to see if there is a local organization that will accept donated furniture, cars, clothing, etc. to be resold to aid disabled veterans.

~ Look into local resources for homeless veterans and ask how you can help.

~ Support veteran-owned businesses and/or let businesses that offer discounts to the military or otherwise support service people and their families know that you appreciate their efforts.

~ Make fleece tie blankets and donate them to your local VA hospital.  There are also organizations that will help you get handmade blankets to those currently serving.

~ Call your local school district and see if they know of any military families who may be struggling.  Ask if it would be possible to cover the kids' school lunches.

~ Put together and send care packages for the troops.  Contact your local military office for ideas on what to include.

~ Assemble fleece blankets to be given to members of the military.

~ Our troops overseas really get a lot of encouragement from the internet.  Try to find a group site or an individual (check with local churches or military affiliates) that you can communicate with through the internet. They love Facebook and e-mail, as well as care packages and snail mail.

~ I was thinking about "Campus Man" and this popped into my head... If you have a family member in the military or away from the rest of the family for any reason for an extended period of time, make them a photo calendar with family photos. It's something they would see every day and it would remind them that they were loved. Maybe even pose your family members with signs reading "We love you, Name!" or similar messages.

~ Volunteer for Forces and Veteran flag days.

Helping our Elderly, Sick, and Homebound

~When helping a family out during a death or sickness, or even the birth of a baby or a family reunion, consider other than food, bringing zip plastic bags, small plastic storage containers, plastic wrap and aluminum foil to safely save and store food for a few days. Also consider supplying paper eating products such as plates and cups, plastic utensils, and kitchen trash bags. Bottled water, cans/bags of coffee, tea bags, milk, cereal, sugar, salt, pepper, and condiments, nose tissue, and toilet paper are often items that get used up before someone thinks to go to the store for more. Another good idea is coolers filled with ice to store drinks and even some food, as the refrigerator and freezer often get full.

~I have (in the past) contacted the local elementary schools and talk with teachers and principals to see if we could get some of the students to make Christmas cards out of construction paper for the elderly and homebound. I offered to bring in the construction paper(my budget was a little better than the teacher) and any craft item that they would need. I picked up the cards when they were ready and passed them out to my residents along with the mail on Christmas Eve day. for the home bound, I got in touch with a couple of agencies that catered to this type of work and I took a batch of card to their office to be distributed by the visiting aids or nurses. I was a big hit and the children were just amazing. They did a terrific job with crafts, art and crayolas. I later sent a certificate of appreciation to the school and to the class of students for their hard work and for bringing so many smiles to so many people.

~ Offer to pick up someone and take them shopping with you, or offer to pick up needed items for them while you are out shopping.

~ Check to see if your community has a service that delivers meals.  See if it would be possible to volunteer or make a donation.

~ Many individuals in nursing homes may not have family who can or are willing to come visit them especially at the holidays.  Pay them a visit.

~ Those in hospitals and hospices may also appreciate visits.  It can mean so much to people to have someone come visit when there is no one else to be there with them. Volunteers may also be needed at those facilities.  

~ "Adopt" someone and become family to them. Include them during holidays, special occaisons, and everyday life. 

~ Find out what is liked and allowed for an individual and create a care package it could include books, snacks, cross word puzzles, and trinkets to brighten their day.

~ Help them scrapbook or maybe just organize their photographs.  Or make a scrapbook of photographs and memorabilia for them. 

~ Talk with them, record their stories...either on a tape or digital recorder/video camera or write it down in a journal. They have fascinating stories and wise words to pay it forward.

~ Donate books to the waiting rooms at hospitals...especially ICU waiting rooms where families camp out.

~ Knit little hats to keep those precious little babies heads warm in Special Care baby units.

~ Call local VA hospitals or retirement homes and see if you might be able to send birthday cards to folks there.

~ Leave your phone number with a housebound neighbour and volunteer to pick up their prescriptions or any provisions they need from the grocery store.

~ Offer to walk an elderly or sick neighbour's pet.

~ Many, many people are full-time caregivers to sick or disabled family members. If you know someone in that position, ask if you can help their loved one for a few hours so the caregiver can have some time to themselves to recharge or meet up with friends.

~ Offer to clean a house for free for somebody in need.

~ Donate DVDs to your local hospice.

~ Offer to give fans or window air conditioners especially to the elderly or anyone who has no air conditioning.

Helping out during the holidays

~ The holidays can be especially hard for those who have suffered losses.  Make an effort to check up on them.

~ Include those who may not have family nearby in your own celebrations.

~ While visiting the elderly and homebound is always a good idea, visiting during the holidays may be especially welcome.

~ Go caroling to the homebounds or to neighbors.  Get in touch with them to let them know you are coming, then bring your family, or a few friends and sing!

~ Supply a group of children with items to make Christmas cards for the elderly, sick and/or homebound. Collect the cards and distribute them to the people or to the facility to be distributed among its roomies.

~ If you're expecting a delivery person or the mail carrier or someone, you could try to have cocoa or cider or such ready and offer it to them.

~ You could leave a candy cane or something with "for the mail delivery person" on it in/near your mail box.

~ Send a Christmas card as a means of getting back in touch with someone or simply sharing why you're so grateful they've been a part of your life. 

~ Buy an extra Christmas gift and send it out to one of the many charities that sends out gifts to our servicemen and women who will be overseas at Christmas or just drop it off to a elderly neighbour who doesn't have visitors or family.

~ Remember that need doesn't know just a season.  Adopt a family at Christmas and continue to help them through out the year.

~ If you need to buy Christmas cards this year, try to buy ones from which a portion of the proceeds go to a good cause.

~ Be friendly and courteous to retail people.  We all know the holidays can be hectic and exasperating.  Unfortunately, sometimes people who work at stores bear the brunt of that.  So be sure they know you appreciate them and their patience!

~ Consider giving to a charity in lieu of purchasing gifts.  Tell the people who you gave in honor of what the gift is supporting whether it be surgery for a child with a cleft palate, sponsorship of a child, etc.

~ Another idea for good family time is to gather seeds berries, popcorn and such and decorate a tree outside... in your yard, the forest or a park (if permissible) with these edible items. Then the little critters can enjoy them. Deer, squirrels, birds...

~In lieu of gifts on your birthday, Christmas, etc.; request that people make donations to charities.

~ In lieu of gifts on special occasions, purchase livestock for a family who needs it or sponsor an animal at a preserve and present information about this gift to the recipient.  If you still want them to have something physical as their gift, you could always purchase a plush version of the animal for them to remember the gift by.

~ Donate unwanted Christmas gifts to your local charity shop.

~Promote tolerance and understanding by sharing your traditions with others and inviting them to do the same.

~What about getting some of those bright plastic eggs and hiding those around town with uplifting messages inside (and maybe some candy, too!) for people to find.

~I used to love getting a palm cross from church on Palm Sunday. Would love to be able to get a few handfuls of them and give them out with a card.

~Stand out on the street and handout daffodils.

~To me, Easter's kinda like Christmas in that it's such a happy time and the message is so joyful but it can also be really, really hard when you've lost someone. So maybe, if you think they'd appreciate it, buy a potted Easter lily or something for someone who is grieving.

For the holiday season 2012, we're challenging all of us to participate in the 12 Days of Christmas... RAOK Style!  Learn more about it on our News page and check out the ideas below for some ideas on how to join our challenge!

~Give 12 compliments!  It could be very meaningful to those hearing your kind words.  :-)

~Send 12 Christmas/holiday cards to those in the armed services, people in assisted living or hospitals, or even people in your own life who you've lost touch with.  Just 12 people beyond what you may have planned to send.  It could be a real day brightener for the recipients.  To save postage, you could hand-deliver them in your community (i.e. drop a stack off at a hospital, veterans' center, etc.)

~Hand out little prayer cards with a Christmas blessing on it.  Various stationery and printing companies offer these along with religious bookstores and the like.  Alternately, you could design and print your own.

~Perform 12 of any of the ideas you see listed on this page.

Helping out animals

~ Pet shelters need old linens and towels!  Also pet toys, cat litter and small animal supplies (bedding and food for guinea pigs, rats etc.) They would be "fur ever grateful".

~ Donate animal food to your local pet shelter.  There are always many animals to feed and most shelters are non profit, so they rely on the donations of caring individuals.

~ Volunteer at your local animal shelter and give  some time, love and tenderness to those animals who have been unwanted and neglected.

~ Support your local parrot and bird sanctuaries.

Helping to conserve and improve our environment

~ How about Paying It Forward to Mother Earth and planting a tree. This can be to commemorate a birth, anniversary or other special dates, remember a loved one and plant a tree in their memory or just sponsor a tree planting project. Search for woodland initiatives in your area by searching on the internet or email admin@payitforwardinmemoryofjohndye.net and we will help you find a local project.  

~ How about a community rubbish ...er sorry trash collection. A guy from our local village walks around everyday and picks up rubbish around the high street and shops. Does a great job of keeping his community clean!!

~ Become a supporter of a local or national organization to promote nature itself...cleanup, preservation, and development of green space is very important now with our ever growing population.

~ Taking an empty bag when going for a walk and pick up trash along the way.

~ One idea that a family or group can do is volunteer to help someone ready their yard for spring and summer...burn/collect leaves, plant flowers, trim and prune as necessary, or maybe several neighbors get together and help each other out. This would be extremely helpful for elderly or sickly people who are not able to tend their yards as easily as they used to...also single adults can often use help if they have a huge yard.

~ Make sure you recycle where possible and keep the plastic shopping bags to a minimum. In the UK we have bags for life, which are eco friendly.

Helping to promote education and literacy

~ Check with your local school district to see if you can pay for lunches for a student whose family may be mere dollars above the amount eligible for the free lunch program.

~ To honor John this year or for his birthday, offer to help someone learn to read.  Check with the Literary Alliance of your county that offers free training for tutoring.   A priceless gift with immeasurable benefits.

~ Donate books to the local library.

~ Many local charities and schools have wish lists. They might even be available online. Obtain the wish list of a charity/school of your choice and always take it with you when you go shopping. Pick up an item from the wish list or several as you do your own shopping.

~ Consider volunteering time at an elementary school as a student tutor for the little kids.

~ Offer to teach computer classes for free. Now a days there is need for basic Excel, Word, email, etc. I want to ask my church and see if we can get a class together.

~ Help those in our communities, churches, schools by giving motivation to the younger generation which helps greatly.

~ I know we already have donating books to libraries on the list. But to build on that: I can remember being in grade school and not only having access to what seemed to be an amazing school library but also classroom libraries. It was so great when we had free reading time and could just go choose a book from the dozens and dozens on our teacher's shelf. I've since learned that oftentimes the classroom libraries are stocked by the teachers themselves... NOT financed by the school. So checking with teachers you know to see if they need books for their kids would be a great thing to do.

~ If you have small children and they have friends over, make a point of offering to read a story (or two or three...) Kids love to be read to and your kids' friends may not have parents who read aloud. You could instill a love for reading just by taking a few minutes that might otherwise be spent on video games or watching a movie. And a love of reading goes a long way at school!

~ Do what you can to support adult education classes in your area.  They can be vulnerable to budget cuts so your support and willingness to fight for them can be vital.

Other ideas for helping out in your community

~ Give presentations at high schools, churches and businesses to encourage people to PAY IT FORWARD and get the word out about our website and mission. 

~ Perform Random Acts of Kindness anywhere and everywhere and encourage others to pass it on.

~ Talk about Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye with your co-workers, family, and friends

~ Start a "card ministry" to reach out to people in need of encouragement and a kind word.

~ In autumn, clear driveways and pavements of leaves in your neighbourhood.  Shovel the snow in winter.

~ How about just a smile or a hello?  Doesn't cost a penny but is infectious!

~ Volunteer to stuff envelopes at a community service organization or church or even a school.

~ Shop at stores that are affiliated with charities and/or donate a percentage of their profits to worthwhile causes. 

~ Some stores also make a point of giving employment opportunities to those living in shelters and/or the differently-abled.  They should be rewarded with loyal shoppers!

~ We all have people we drifted away from without meaning to or maybe that we wish we had treated differently. Now may be the perfect time to drop them a card or even pick up the phone and just let em know you still care.

~ To commemorate a birthday, complete random acts of kindness to equal the number of years celebrated-example: 49 for John's 49th.

~ For people on Facebook or who send out e-mails; why not send out a quote, or encouragement of some kind, daily, weekly or monthly to encourage and inspire others?

~ Check with organizations that aid abused children to see if they need no-sew fleece blankets for those they are counseling.

~ If you know someone who is grieving, offer to scan photographs for them.  They may want to ensure these mementos of their loved ones are preserved but not be able to do it themselves.

~ Another way to support those experiencing loss is to offer your help in going through personal effects at their convenience.

~ You might also offer to accompany them to the cemetery if they want to go but just don't want to go alone.

~ Give blood.

~ Loan somebody something and then forget about doing so.

~ Tell someone you love them.  You probably show it and they probably know it but it's always nice to hear.

~ Do you have a jar where you collect loose change?  For John's birthday, take that money and make a donation to a charity.  Use this idea throughout the year.  With the economy like it is and resources in short supply different charities could really use the donations.

~ Knit or crochet clothes for use in maternity units or funeral homes to clothe stillborn or mis-carried babies. The internet provides plenty of pattern ideas and guidelines for creating these items for those precious little ones who were too special to be born.

~ Anytime you hear a first responder siren or see a first responder (police, Fire, EMT) heading out to a call, lift up a prayer for the people it is responding too. You could even life up a prayer for the next call coming in if you see one at lunch or returning to their station.

~ I read this today and wanted to share it with you; Giving and receiving are yin/yang related activities. The act of giving to others whether in terms of time, space, ideas, love or material possessions - creates the space for you to receive something in return. When we are completely focused on ourselves and forget to "discharge" some of our energy into the world, we just get stuck. There is no room for inspiration or creativity and stubborn illnesses or debilitating fatigue can often result. The act of giving simply creates the space for new opportunities and new possibilities to enter your life" Jon Sandifer Feng Shui For Life. So if you did need a reason for a random act of kindness, I think you have just been given one.

~ How about placing a box or something in your office (with permission, of course) to collect coats, toiletries, etc. for a local charity and then taking it in when your co-workers fill it? I know sometimes people have things hanging around their house that they'd like to donate but just never quite manage to get themselves to the homeless shelter, animal shelter, children's services, etc. You'd be enabling others to pay it forward and getting the needed goods to where they need to be.

~ Cake sale at work, donate the money to a community project.

~ If you see someone getting taunted because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, economic status or anything, stand up for them. Or at the very least let them know that not everyone feels as the bully does. They are loved and valued.

~ I was able to get tours at a couple of the places that I did my RAOKs for. I didn't ask because I didn't want to take up their time. They just offered. I think they like having the opportunity to share what they do because then people feel more strongly about supporting them. And, hopefully, you then go out and tell friends "I had this great tour of ---- and it's so amazing what they do!" I know I did. So if you are helping a place, be open to maybe doing a bit more than just dropping items off. The interest may be more appreciated than you realize.

~ Start or join a Facebook Bible Study or Prayer Group you will be helping yourself and others.

~ Inspire others to Pay It Forward. By talking about paying it forward, you may light the spark for somebody else who is maybe looking for meaning or purpose in their life. With your words you may encourage a lonely person to get out and make a difference to somebody else's life. The possibilities are endless just by practising what we preach.

~ Treat a friend who is going through troubling times to a evening out at the movies or a game of miniature golf to help relieve the stress.

~ Make personalised prayer beads for a stressed friend or present them with a "friendship rock" on which you wrote a message to encourage them. Make sure that you pray over it to create a spiritual connection with them.

~ Create business size inspirational cards. These can be easily carried and handed to someone who needs encouragement or support.

~ Create a coupon book of RAOK's. Give a coupon to someone you know and let them redeem it when they need it the most. Better yet. Create a coupon book and ask a friend to join you in completing the RAOK's created. Then ask them to pass it forward.

~ As our young are our futures, it is really important to invest time and energy to helping them become their "best self". In a world that seems to have become very self centered, how about encouraging our youngsters to Pay It Forward and make a difference in their community? Why not set up a youth task force in your area, gather some willing young people and wash cars, weed gardens, help pack shopping at the supermarket anything to inspire them to think of others before self. I think maybe John would have approved of us teaching our people how to change the world a bit at a time.

~ If you receive a "gift card" that you do not need, either donate it to a charity or use it to buy necessities for a charity and donate them.

~ Offer to start a Victory Garden for someone who would not otherwise be able to grow their own food, and help to maintain the garden through the seasons.

~ If you know someone who makes things for charitable causes, consider donating needed materials for them to use.  I've been on the receiving end of this sort of generosity and really appreciated being helped to bring comfort to others.

~  A friend of mine started a "Re-Gifting" page for our community. People go on and post items that they no longer need or use for others to have. No money exchanges hands, simply one person giving to another in need. You never know what you may have that will bless someone else. Just an example: Today, we met a very nice lady who was giving away brand-new men's pants that she had acquired from a factory closing. We now have 3 weeks worth of work pants and dress pants for my husband. An answered prayer!

When traveling:

~ There may be some folks unfamiliar with the currency.  During a recent trip I took, a lil girl was in front of my family in line at the theme park's main restaurant and a bit short on her drink order so we paid the lil bit (less than a dollar).  Hopefully that made her feel better and it also kept folks in line from getting grumpy over waiting for her to go find her mom.

~ If you see people angling their cameras awkwardly trying to photograph themselves by some attraction, offer to take the photo for them.

~ This sounds really basic but I got the impression it doesn't happen all the time: when someone working at the attraction asks how you are, ask them back and not in some distracted way.  I'm sure it can be really stressful and a sincere query about their well-being might counter a previous negative interaction with a guest.

Inspired by Touched by an Angel

We at Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye were very excited to learn about the July 24th, 2012 DVD release of Touched by an Angel's 5th season.  As we anticipate that happy day, we decided to come up with ways to pay it forward that could be linked to Season 5 episodes.  We're looking forward to tying RAOK ideas to episodes from future seasons as those hopefully get released on DVD, too.  Our Season 5 ideas are in yellow, Season 6 ideas are in turquoise, Season 7 ideas are in pink, and Season 8 ideas are in peach.  We'll assign a different color to the other seasons as those become available.

~ Do something to benefit autism research/support ("Only Connect")

~ Babysit for free ("Jagged Edges").

~ For those using US currency: Collect pennies (and other spare change) and at the end donate it to a local charity. Or use $5 bills to take a few bucks off the order of the folks behind you in line at a drive through. "Beautiful Dreamer" Think about it. ;-)

~ "Family Business"- make it a point to shop at locally owned businesses.

~ "Made in the USA" DEFINITELY lends itself to Vietnam Vet support or even English as a second language tutoring.

~ Since Facebook is doing a big campaign to promote organ donation... there's another RAOK and it matches up with "Hearts."

~ "Vengeance is mine" ...donate to alcohol abuse help organizations.

~ There may be walkathons and marathons with it being spring and early summer...I'm sure there will be all kinds of charity events that people could participate in or come out and support in some manner...a couple of the eps had sports themes..."My Brother's Keeper", "Only Connect", "Fighting the Good Fight"

~ Episodes with history themes (
"Beautiful Dreamer", "Wind Beneath My Wings", even the Space Program in "Godspeed") could be linked to 4th of July charity events...

~ "Lady of the Lake" is definitely a nature, rec area cause.

~ "Wind Beneath My Wings" especially makes me think of family history what with them learning about the grandma's amazing service during WWII.  So... if your family doesn't have a historian/archivist... consider taking some of that on yourself.  Make a family tree.

~ "Miles to Go Before I Sleep"- Nurses might appreciate a relaxation basket. Bubble bath, a nice candle, those fuzzy spa socks, tea, a relaxation CD, etc. and/or a gift certificate for a massage.  For nurses of either gender, you could put together a basket of home-baked cookies or muffins.  You might also include gift certificates to a movie theater, music vouchers/iTunes gift cards, a journal and a nice pen, and a thoughtful hand-written note or letter.

~ Make a donation towards scholarships to send kids to Space Camp.  ("Godspeed")

~ Look into working with an organization that assists those in the community to obtain valid identification. Many people who have been indigent, incarcerated, marginalized in some way, have no way to obtain a driver's license or picture ID if they do not have their birth certificates or other identifications. It's almost impossible in this culture now to do anything, such as be employed, rent or open a bank account without ID.  ("Only Connect"...  Ferdie was homeless for a while.)

~ For "The Peacemaker," how about digitizing important family photos and documents?  Converting old family movies to DVD and such, too.  Kinda goes along with documenting family history as was mentioned with "Wind Beneath My Wings."

~ Also, for "The Peacemaker," if you know a couple is struggling with a difficult child as that couple did, maybe treat them to dinner or just something to give them time for themselves.

~ For "I Do": weddings are stressful for all the families involved, so treating the couple or their family members to a meal or just some time out would be nice.

~ Concerning the issue of suicide (in "I Do") ...if you know someone who is having to deal with that...just be there for them and allow them to grieve. So many times, people shy away and that just makes the guilt that much worse.

~ If someone you know is in the hospital or is staying at the hospital, sit with them as you can. It is SO helpful to have someone to go get coffee/food, answer the phone, and even help listen to what the doctor/nurse says...as often the family is in a state of shock.  ("I Do")

~Rehabilitation facilities... like Michael in "I Do" probably spent some time at eventually... also might be a good place to look into donating to. The facilities themselves might have wish lists but I was also thinking along the lines of books and gifts for the patients. It would work with "My Brother's Keeper," too.

~ As for "What are Friends For?"... think of poor Tom. He never asked for anything, he never grasped for attention. He was just a good friend. So if you have a Tom who always seems to be dealing with everyone else's drama and maybe doesn't ever have anyone really focusing on him/her... make him or her feel valued. Plan a day around them.

~ Volunteer at a homework help line.  ("What are Friends For?")

~ Donate to Cystic Fibrosis fundraisers. ("Psalm 151")

~ Help someone with their Bucket List, either help them create it or work through it. ("Psalm 151")

~ Help a family with a newborn baby. ("An Angel on My Roof")

~ Definitely keep an eye out in the local community for people who are suffering a terminal illness, see what you can do to support the person and their family. They may have some last wishes that you can maybe help them fulfill.  ("Psalm 151")

~ Donate to the local hospital or the ward on which an ill person you know is being treated or you can donate to a charity that supports or researches their illness.  ("Psalm 151")

~ Hold a fundraising event in their name to raise awareness. ("Psalm 151")

~ Help families who are new in your town or village so they feel welcome and can participate in the town's life.  ("On Edge")

~ Check with children's hospitals or care centers to see about a card shower for children who are away from home on their birthdays.  ("Psalm 151")

~ Give grandparents who are raising their kids' kids a break now and then.  Or just do something to brighten their day as the circumstances can sometimes be overwhelming.  ("Full Circle")

~ Take the time to sit and watch their favorite show with your sibling or a friend or parent, etc. It may not be your cup of tea but if it's something they're really into, they'll appreciate that you made the effort. I can remember how much I loved it when a family member would watch an episode of TBAA with me cause usually I watched alone. I loved having someone there to actually talk about it with.  ("The Medium and the Message")

~ "Fool for Love"- Find a way to be involved with foster care or women's /children's shelters. And, if you know someone who is in a similar situation as the teenage character Sara...be supportive and loving to her or him...never give up on them, but at the same time be firm and try to help them get out of the abusive situation.

~ A couple weeks ago I took to handing out packages of M&Ms to people. Maybe that can count for "The Medium and the Message" since its initials roughly come out to M&M. ;-) I was surprised by how happy people were just over a lil bag of candy. One guy thanked me again the following week.

~ "The Man Upstairs" - Lots of issues: gambling,suicide, alcohol... medical care. You could support your local gambling addiction support group, call a clinic that deals with those people who maybe don't have medical insurance and see what they need. Wear a yellow ribbon on international suicide prevention day (September 10) or do a presentation to raise awareness supporting depression.  Maybe volunteer an hour at a crisis centre ...

~ "The Anatomy Lesson" - donate old toys, dvds etc. to a child cancer ward.  Check with hospitals first to see what they accept. Maybe provide blank books with inspirational quotes the kids can fill in? Donate to organizations that help find missing children.  Families who are religious have groups through pastoral support that might like a prayer partner. Contact your local hospital chaplain.

~ "Into the Fire"- Donate to your national cult support groups who help people and families heal after leaving a cult and rebuilding their lives.

~ "Black Like Monica"- I would probably think about someone I know who has shown remarkable courage in facing a civil issue and maybe send that person a card. I would make it about courage, bravery and fighting to overcome adversity. And how I admire them for it :)

~ For "Black Like Monica" you could also look into lending support to museums (local or national) that honor and educate about those who worked to ensure the civil rights of others.  You could make a donation or, if you're nearby, possibly even volunteer there.

~ "Into the Fire": What set Melina on that unfortunate path was largely frustration with her current life, especially employment. So often unemployment and underemployment can lead to depression and anxiety. Even isolation. I was underemployed for a couple years after graduating and one thing that really helped me was going out for dinner or on an outing with a friend. They were always conscientious about choosing activities that weren’t going to be expensive. But it just gave me a chance to either get away from the worries or else talk about them and get it off my chest. So I think just spending quality time with folks looking for a job means so much.

~ For all these episodes...just learn to listen to family, friends, and even acquaintances.  That little support could be just enough to get them through a rough spot.

~ "Monica's Bad Day"- Remember when you have encounters with people in your day to day business to treat them kindly, even if you are having a bad day...because you never know what kind of day they are having or when that may change. You may be the last or the only bright spot of their day.

~ Also, it is important that you have someone (or more than one someone) that you can talk to when you are feeling really down. There is nothing that makes a bad day worse, than feeling like you can't even talk out your frustrations. And, if you know of someone who needs to do that, lend them your ear. And remember, people don't always need advice, sometimes they just need to voice their frustrations to get it all straight in their own heads...so...just be supportive for them and help them to understand what they are saying. Sometimes, just saying something out loud makes it easier to deal with.

~ "Buy Me a Rose"- Hand out real roses or if you don't want to do that, make roses from Hershey's Kisses and hand them out.  Directions to follow!

~ "For Such a Time as This"- Step out and participate in something that is out of your comfort zone or isn't 'politically correct' or the popular view.

~ "For Such a Time as This"- Human trafficking is still a huge problem as there are many organizations that fight to combat it and/or offer support to victims. See if you can become involved with or support those organizations.  As always, be contentious in researching what charities you support. 

~ "Here I Am"
- Support your local art museums.
- Look into opportunities to volunteer at museums.
- Shop at local craft shows and farmers markets to support artists and artisans.

~ "Monica's Bay Day"- Sometimes the best RAOK is doing nothing. If you know you're in a bad mood and there's a strong possibility you might snap at someone... withdraw until you've calmed down. That way you don't hurt anyone or possibly pass your bad mood off to someone else.

~ "Quality Time"- Try not to fill the day, week, month with so many activities and schedules that it is impossible to have unstructured time with your family or even alone. Make sure there is a balance of activity, down time, and talk time for yourself and members of your family.

~"The Compass": Help someone (especially Veterans) pen a letter to a loved one or to someone who was there for them at an important time of their life. Also, help Vets record the stories they are willing to share-especially the WWII and Korea vets as they are the oldest living vets.

~"Living the Rest of My Life": Allow older and elderly people as much independence as is possible and safe. Don't force them to become sedentary.

~For "The Letter"... and since arts education is part of what brought John into our living rooms... support arts programs and scholarships at your alma mater or local schools/universities. Donation of supplies may also be welcome. Or simply make a point of attending their concerts, plays, exhibits, etc.

"Such a Time as This"
~Learn more about human trafficking.  Knowledge is the first line of defense in combating a problem as massive and damaging as this.

"The Compass"
~Take the time to listen to the stories of "the greatest generation."  You'll learn a lot and your attention will mean much to them.

"The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life"
~Help someone you know accomplish one of their dreams.

"Til Death Do Us Part"
~Be aware of the signs of suicidal thinking.  If you fear someone you love may be suicidal, do what you can to get them help immediately.

"The Occupant"
~Do what you can to help erase the stigma that's unfortunately still attached to mental illness.
~If you hear that an old friend is struggling, do what you can safely do to help them find their way back to a good place emotionally and physically.  

"Voice of an Angel"  
~ If you know someone who is down, never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee or tea brought to them by a friend. 

"The Whole Truth And Nothing But..."
~ Try really hard to avoid spreading gossip.

"Then Sings My Soul"
~ Do what you can to promote feelings of goodwill and harmony in your workplace.
~ Treat your co-workers to taffy.  It's pretty and yummy!

"The Christmas Gift"
~ During these tough economic times, many more people are moving in with family.  This can make for some tense times.  If that's happening to someone close to you, maybe you could alternate treating the various parties to some time away from the home so they can get a break from each other.

~ Pay it forward to the future generations of your family: start a time capsule.

"With God As My Witness"
~When you find yourself in a morally tough situation, listen to that still, small voice and let it guide you to the most loving action/decision.

"A House Divided"
~ Be a mentor to a child going through a divorce.  Let them know they have someone they can talk to about anything.
~ If you have a child, whether you're with the other parent or not, take care to never put the child in the middle or unload your grievances about the other parent on them.

"Life Before Death"
~ Look into organizations like the one depicted in the episode that help children who live amid conflict and violence.
~ Support/volunteer with programs that teach kids leadership and conflict resolution skills.  They will be the ones to determine whether the future is peaceful or not.

"A Perfect Game"
~ If you have a broken friendship that you now realize may have fractured only because of a misunderstanding, do what you can to clear the air and make peace with your buddy.

"Bar Mitzvah"
~ Learn about your own culture and religion.  One day it'll fall to you to teach the future generation what both mean to your family.

"True Confessions"
~ Support prison ministries.
~ Support theatres.  As "True Confessions" shows, plays can be a portal to greater understanding of ourselves and our world.

"Quality Time"
~ If you know a child who struggles with an illness like diabetes, do what you can to assure them that they can still lead a rich and full life.
~ If you're the hospitable type and like to have treats and candy dishes around for guests, try to keep diabetic-friendly choices on hand.

"Living the Rest of My Life"
~ I love the message of this episode: everyone has a talent that should be put to good use.  So do what you can to encourage others to grow and use their talents!

"Stealing Hope"
~ If you know a child or teen who is carrying very adult responsibilities, do what you can to lighten their load so they can find themselves and develop their passions and skills.  

"Monica's Bay Day"
~If you know someone who is just having one of those awful days... do any little thing you can to help pull them out of it.  Share a memory you have of them that you treasure.  Treat them to dessert or a snack.  Listen to them.  Tell them something you really admire about them that you've never shared with them before.

"Send in the Clowns"
~Stand up for those who are bullied.
~Teach the children in your life about the importance of embracing differences.
~Make someone laugh!

"Mother's Day"
~ Continue to check in on bereaved parents periodically.

"Pandora's Box"
~ Be mindful of what the kids in your life are doing online.  Install software, pay attention, block dangerous web sites, etc.  to keep them safe.
~ If you have young friends who are engaging in behavior online that might lead them to harm... speak up!
~ February 9 is Internet Safety Day. Over 60 countries take part each year. A wonderful idea and one that a lot of organisations do is presentations to kids on internet safety. Alternatively anyone can look up the kids activities designed for this particular day and either talk to their teens or do the activities for younger kids. Or even get some of your friends and kids together and do these fun activities, highlighting internet safety. There are lots of age appropriate activities on the internet and many organisations who take part throughout the world.

"The Sign of the Dove"
~Treat a loved one to a meal/drink and, most importantly, a talk at your own Sign of the Dove spot. It’s especially good if it’s locally/family owned.

~Find out and write down family stories…your own family…and others…
~"The Face on the Barroom Floor"- Maybe crafty folk can make some sort of little buttons/pins to give to people to brighten their day.

~"Legacy"- College can be a kinda rough transition so maybe meet up with a new student for coffee or even just give em a call to ensure they’re settling in all right. And when people go to parties, watch over those you came with. It doesn’t mean being a busybody. But if it’s blatantly obvious someone has drunk too much, something needs to be done.

~"The Invitation"- Help someone overcome a phobia.

~"Restoration"- A friend and I have been swapping inspirational movies and then discussing them. It’s been really great. People could do that. Or if you know someone needs a little cheer, take them out to an uplifting movie or buy them a DVD and offer to watch with them.

"Finger of God"
~Support relief efforts for those impacted by natural disasters.
~Did you know the fire department of West, Texas is a volunteer fire department? Many first responders get paid very little if at all, for their services and for their commitment to risk their lives and to buy the equipment they need to help the community. Finger of God is an episode about a small community banding together to help each other. Those of us who live in small communities rely on the help of volunteers for our fire department and EMT’s, disaster relief, and donations to the sheriff, and police departments of our communities. We also rely heavily on the state troopers and larger cities nearby. A RAOK for this episode and also in light of the plant explosion in Texas, would be to donate either to West, Texas, or to a local community of your own, money toward a volunteer first responder unit or to a first responder fund. Or, if physically possible, volunteer to help with one of these organizations either on a force itself, or as disaster relief aide, organizer or behind the scenes work. We never know how much we rely on these services until we need these services.
"The Empty Chair"
~Work with a local unplanned pregnancy program in your area or with unwed teens, or with a support group for women who have had abortions or miscarriages or lost a child after it was born or given a child up for adoption.

~Be open to listening if you do have a friend who had an abortion or a friend who helped a loved one get an abortion. It can be really, really hard to listen, especially if you're against abortion, but they might need to talk and judgment will accomplish nothing but ill will and hurt feelings. So… just listen and be a friend.

~ I think a key one with “The Empty Chair” is just being open to listening if you do have a friend who had an abortion or, as happened to me, a friend who helped a family member get an abortion. It was really, really hard for me to listen to them because of my views on abortion (and, admittedly, being childless and sometimes struggling with that) but they needed to talk and me spouting off would have accomplished nothing but ill will and hurt feelings. So… just listen.

"God Bless the Child"
~People still don’t know a lot about their own history. Volunteer in a history museum or speak at a school or class or social group.
~ Give a Bible to someone in need of one. I don’t mean push one off on someone just because you may feel they need a Bible. I’m talking about folks who want one and don’t have one. There are charities that fund giving Bibles to folks but it’s likely you can find someone yourself, too. Ditto with some other inspirational book.

"Reasonable Doubt"- If you know someone who is called for jury duty, see if you can help out in some way. It can really be disruptive so offering to cook a meal, pick-up kids, etc. can really help.

"The Grudge"- Contact someone you had a petty falling out with and try to heal the relationship. Or even just reach out to someone you drifted away from without any sort of fight.

"An Angel on My Tree"
~Support prison ministries and/or those for the families of inmates. If you know someone with a relative in jail, hold the judgment and do what you can for the family.
~Be understanding of those who are different. Never tease or bully someone with Tourette’s or another disorder. Stand up for them if you witness teasing.

"Mi Familia"- If you know someone who is looking for a job but hindered by the need for childcare, offer to watch the lil one(s) long enough for the parent to make the interview.

"Shallow Waters"
~When I was a child, it was my responsibility to help look for road signs when we traveled. Especially at night and I had to help keep the driver awake. To this day, if I am not the one driving, I do not sleep.  I still help the driver by talking and watching for road signs, deer, and other drivers on the road.
~Always keep lines of communication open with family and friends even if you need a cooling off period and are not speaking. Allow people to step out and try their dreams and support and encourage them for trying.

~If a tragedy such as a bombing occurs, find out how you can help if you are not already afiliated with a disaster relief organization or church sponsored support group. Collect stuffed animals to give to organizations for the children who are victims of a disaster.
~Another need is to organize and provide for childcare for victims as they fill out paperwork for FEMA and insurance claims and such. Often people spend hours at these offices and they have their children with them. See if you can work with a group to provide books, toys, games to have at these centers for the children.

"Band of Angels"- Help kids find some hobby or common bond that they can use to express their creativity so that they are less likely to get mixed up in bad situations.

"I am an Angel"- You never know who may be looking up to you -be kind to strangers. Look for ways to do things for others or be helpful to them.

"Winners, Losers and Leftovers"- Be a team player at work. Try to be helpful when allowed to do so. And, by that, I mean, I know some work places do not allow employees to ‘help’ others, but, if you are allowed to do so, then, do so. And, mentor employees if you can. oh, and, be accepting of ‘constructive criticism’ yourself if it occurs.

"Visions of Thy Father"
~There are many organizations that raise money for research into blindness and eye disease. There are also ways to donate old eye glasses. Still other places offer occupational therapy to those with minimal eye sight. They teach them how to utilize what sight they do have and how to cope with what they don’t. While I’m sure monetary donations are always appreciated, they may also have other needs. I know ours here has a sort of mock house. It’s set up like a real home so clients can experiment with various tools to see how they’d function in their own homes. So they might need housewares and such. Or large print books or audio books.
~Support arts classes like photography in schools. Often these are the programs that face the most budget cuts.
~Also, there are places that you can recycle old but still functioning cameras and cell phones (once they’ve been cleared of all data, of course). Look into them when you’re preparing to part with a camera.

"The Lord Moves in Mysterious Ways"- For this one, I would think, to just realize there is an opportunity in every situation to be a catalyst in someone’s life. We may not ever know how we have affected that person and they may never know it either for that matter. But, where ever we find ourselves try to leave that place, scene or situation in as good or better shape than it was when we arrived. We might think no one is paying attention, but you never know.

"The Penalty Box"- I watched this ep just the other day. How about volunteering with a sports program or arena/venue or sponsoring/mentoring a young athlete or sport? My niece really wants to do figure skating and compete. But our local ice rink does not have a figure skating team. She had to join an out of town team to be able to enter a competition last week, and that meant some out of town practices when we have a rink right in town. So, a group is now working on doing what they can to get the city to allow/provide for this.

"Bringer of Light"- Look for different ways to connect with people. Often times, we give pat answers or or use terms which may be familiar in our settings, but totally foreign to the person we are trying to help. Find out what that person is interested in, and use it as a basis for your discussions. For example, it does me no good to tell my students' parents that their child is a ‘tactile kinetic learner’…they have no idea what I mean…but, if I say, ‘he/she understands and can remember better if he is allowed to move around or play with something while practicing his spelling words, so let him/her bounce a ball while spelling their words’. The main character in this episode was not scientifically inclined. Andrew was able to help her when he explained the Intelligent Design theory by using his pocket watch. And she was able to better ‘explain’ God to her dad simply because it was a scientific theory and he related to that more.

"Most Likely to Succeed"
~ A RAOK or PIF idea for this is to help someone who may want to attend a reunion, whether it be a school/class, work, or family reunion. Or help plan or implement a reunion. This could be anything from financial or emotional support, babysitting children, or helping someone pick out a dress for the event.
~Also, mentor young students in being kind and helpful to others teaching them that their actions now will be remembered in the future.
~Another way to help might be to assist someone in creating on-line reunions thru Facebook or some other internet site or to work on their class, family, or work related history using the internet.
~Don’t bully! Know the signs of bullying so you can intervene if necessary.

"Holy of Holies"- Show respect for others’ cultures and religions and their artifacts. Learn about them. And be understanding and compassionate when people ask questions about your own beliefs. Dialogue is a good thing!

"The Perfect Game"
~Take care to check in on the older members of one’s family. See if they need anything, talk to them, make sure they don’t feel isolated even if it is difficult for them to get around.
~Take care to teach the children around you that God created us all. We’re all beautiful and loved and the barriers we’ve put up are human made… not God made.

"The Birthday Present"- Be attentive to your neighbors… without being nosy! In this episode, two children were being very mistreated and the results were tragic. If a neighbor had just spoken up sooner, things may have ended more happily.

"Manhunt"- Speaking from personal experience here… Don’t rib the single people in your life. Those of us who are single by choice aren’t going to be swayed by idle, teasing chatter. For those who are single but wish they weren’t, “When are you gonna get married???” and “Just find someone already!” types of remarks are just plain painful. I think some folks think they’re being cute or funny when they say that sorta stuff but it can get really old, really fast.

"Chutzpah"- Respect your culture. Yes, you may have issues with aspects of it and that’s fine. When something is genuinely wrong… like inequality… it’s good to speak out and try to remedy the situation. But resorting to hate speech and insensitive caricatures is not okay.

"Famous Last Words"
~Pray for those who are imprisoned and their families.
~You might consider supporting a charity that helps families cope when a member is in prison.
~ Do what you can for survivors of domestic abuse. Emotional scars may last much longer than physical ones. And if you suspect a friend is being abused, let him or her know you’re there for them. There are several places that can advise you on what to say and what not to say to domestic abuse victims.

"Heaven’s Portal"- Be a friend to children going through a divorce. It can be very difficult even for older children and adult children. Help them know that they’re not alone and that even though their life might be unstable for a time, love is always there.

"When Sunny Gets Blue"- Monitor your language. Words related to mental illness have, unfortunately, snuck into our day-to-day banter. Most people in no way mean to cause offense but casual references to “schizo” and the like can be painful for those living with mental illness.

"Angels Anonymous"
~Phone, write, or email a former teacher and let them know how much you appreciate them.
~Many schools will have retirement parties for outgoing teachers and let that be known in alumni newsletters. Consider attending or sending a card.

"A Winter Carol"
~My school used to have a support group for students who lost loved ones. Actually, both my schools did. I know there are also community groups unattached to schools that do the same. You could look into supporting those programs.
~And just reach out to people. As awful as 9-11 was, I think it made us reach out to each other more.  I wish that camaraderie was still there today as much as it was on Sept. 12th.

"The Last Chapter"- If you know a family who has a loved on at the hospital and is spending a lot of time there, ask how you can help out.  It could be as simple as collecting their mail so it doesn’t pile up and advertise that the house is empty.  Or maybe it means helping get kids to and from school and activities while the parent is at the hospital.

~Learn about sickle cell anemia and other childhood diseases. 
Often the costs attached to care and treatment for childhood illnesses are astronomical.  Sometimes local banks have funds for families facing these huge medical bills.  Donate what you can.

"The Blue Angel"- Support your public broadcasting stations.  You may even get a free bag or CD or whatever out of it.  ;-)  Seems like they’re always giving stuff out for various donation levels.

"Secrets and Lies"
~Recognize that a serious illness in the family impacts all members of that family, not only the person diagnosed and being treated.  Do what you can to give caregivers a reprieve. 
~Also, especially when children are ill, do what you can to still keep them feeling involved since it can be so isolating.  Send cards, games, and just lil bits of normalcy as appropriate.  Be sure to check with the parents to see what’s acceptable.  Remember how Andrew had to wipe down the CD player before Erica could have it.  There may be concerns like that which need to be noted when deciding what to do.

"The Princeless Bride"- If you’re getting married or involved with planning a wedding, look into using the opportunity to give back.  Since so many people are getting married after buying a home and filling it, they might consider suggesting donations to charity instead of having a large gift registry.  Or they might have a registry but make it for things a local school, shelter, etc. need.

"Hello, I Love You"- Stand up for kids who are being bullied and teach the kids in your own life that no one chooses how they come into this world.  Bullying a child for having an “alternative family” is NOT okay.

"Minute by Minute"
~Support anti-bullying programs in your area.
~Also, teach your kids to be kind even to those who are unpopular.

"The Bells of St. Peters"- While we may not be able to send our families to Rome, I think we all have folks who we can spend some more quality time with.  Put away the cell phones and computers and whatnot and just enjoy some good, quality time with friends and family.  Work will always be there.

"The Impossible Dream"
~Help someone take steps to realize a dream they’ve been carrying.
~If you know someone who is retiring, do something special to celebrate their career and all the adventures ahead.

"For All The Tea in China"
~One doesn’t have to look as far as China to find kids in need.  While many of us may not be able to take children into our homes, we can check to see if a local children’s shelter has a wish list. 
~Volunteering with foster kids may also be an option.

"Forever Young"
~Teach the young people in your life the signs of an abusive relationship.
~Avoid all talk that blames the victim.  It’s easy to let something like “Who would stay with someone like that!?” slip out but such talk can make it harder for those experiencing partner violence to seek help because they’re afraid of looking stupid or weak. 
~And as stated several times before: sign up to be an organ donor.

Online Life

~ Send e-cards to online friends who need a morale boost.

~ Organize an online surprise birthday party!  One thing that happened to me online that really touched me was my (17th maybe?) birthday was approaching so one friend contacted a bunch of our mutual friends and some of them wrote goofy poems and such, put them on a web page, and then sent it to me. I had no idea they'd been working at it and it was hilarious and really made that birthday cool.

~ If an online friend suffers a loss in their life, offer to tell mutual online friends of the loss so your grieving friend doesn't need to take time away from their family or their own healing to inform others.  They may feel people deserve to know why they aren't responding as quickly about things and may worry they'll seem to be slacking off if they're involved with any online groups.  Knowing you are passing the sad news along may ease that worry.  NOTE: Be careful about posting such news in a public manner.  Private email/messaging may be the best route.

~ Don't post about a sickness or death until the family gives permission. Most families try to contact close family and friends first, before they want the news added to internet sites. And some don't want it posted until final arrangements have been made. The family will usually designate a person to be the one to make the first post.

~ Many cities have online volunteerism resources.  Check around and see if you can find a site that shares information about how you can give back in your community.  Local news station web sites will often have community pages for this purpose.

~ See if you can help any local organizations by getting news out for them online.  For example, you might work with your local humane society to post photos of animals waiting to be adopted.  Or you might offer to run a Facebook page for a local service organization.  If you know how to design web pages and have available web space, you could offer your skills there.  Sometimes a web site just isn't in the budget for small non-profits but can be a great tool for getting word out about their mission.  The possibilities are endless!

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