Easy Ways to Give Back

This is a post by Contributor Lori Horst. To learn more about Lori, go to the About page.

So many of us talk about how we’d like to help out others, how we’d like to give back if we could, but we often don’t follow our words with actions. Here are a few small ways that you can actually help someone whose life is filled with many more hardships than your own.

1. Kiva

This is a website where you loan $25 to a person of your choice so that they may start a business. You can read about the businesses and the people and choose accordingly. Your money is refunded to you once the person has made a profit. You will receive your money back in increments usually of a few dollars until it is all back in your kiva account. At that point, you can take all $25 back, or you can re-loan it. I have funded over 3 people’s businesses with the same re-loaned $25. One Christmas, I gave kiva gift certificates to my friends in lieu of other gifts. The coolest parts of this site are that you control where your money is going and also you can get it back. This would be a great way to teach your children about giving or would be a good way to connect with friends by funding an entire business together.

2. Bead For Life

This is a website which sells a variety of handmade items (mostly jewelry) made by impoverished women of Uganda, Africa. The proceeds of the sale go back to these women to help fund their businesses, and to educate themselves and their children (In all of Africa, there are no public or “free” schools.) It is very simple to host a “bead party” of your own. Simply log on to the site, tell the date of the bead party (usually needs 3-4 weeks advance notice), and submit a credit card number and address. What will happen is that you will be sent a large box filled with necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more to sell at your bead party. Instructions are very clear with your box. It even includes Ugandan recipes if you would like to make it a theme party. You then invite friends and host the party. Guests pay in cash or checks for their beautiful pieces of jewelry. You’ll find the jewelry very affordable (ranging from $5 to about $35). You then send back the jewelry not purchased, the money raised (follow the instructions included about this), and your credit card will never be charged. It was simply a precaution in case you never sent back the jewelry. I have hosted many of these and usually can raise about $1000 in one party for these Ugandan women. It would be a great activity for a women’s group or a church bazaar or a school group. The jewelry makes great gifts as well. I usually held a party right before Mother’s Day at my school and also in November (to buy for Christmas gifts). Beadforlife is a simple and lovely way to give back to women in need in Africa.

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