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I have always liked the idea of volunteering and giving more than just money to a cause, but the thing is, I don’t really like doing the things that volunteering for a lot of organizations would require me to do. I detest talking on the phone, I’m not too great with people in person and I’ve yet to meet a cause that would drive me to knock on strangers’ doors.
That’s just not my thing.
But I have other talents, and I knew there had to be a way that I could help people while doing things in my comfort zone.
Writing about issues, like we do with the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers’ #NWArkCares program, is one way, but I recently realized another way I can help that’s completely obvious and yet somehow something I’d never done before.
In my ramblings on the Internet I learned about Believe in Preemies, which is run by a photographer based in the Kansas City area who donates her time and resources to do newborn portraits for babies in the NICU. I know that’s a huge deal for some people, to get those first pictures, and her work is lovely and no doubt treasured by those families.
At Christmas she arranges for Santa to visit the NICU and takes pictures of the kids with the big guy to give parents a good memory of baby’s first Christmas when they can’t be home for the holiday. Amazing, right?
Even better, she collects tiny red and white hats for the babies to wear when they meet Santa.
I knew I wanted to be involved. The girl was six weeks early, and though she was only in the NICU for a week there’s a big place in my heart for those little babies even now.
So over the holiday weekend I knit hats.
I managed nine. I’m so happy to know that the work of my hands is going to touch nine families, make the holiday a little brighter for them during this really hard time, and that they’re going to keep those tiny hats forever as a reminder of how far they have come when their kids are home. I imagine them pulling out those hats every Christmas and comparing them to their growing kid’s heads.
I knit the girl a little hat when she was in the hospital and I love seeing how tiny she was and having a record of that time of our lives.
How to Choose a Charity
Though this is a pretty obvious revelation, I think that knitting for NICU babies may be my thing, my way of giving back other than sending money places.
It fills me with such joy to be able to make a little gesture, one mom who has been there to another, and it’s a really small thing that I can fit in to my schedule pretty easily, by taking one day or weekend a month and knitting a couple of hats or a baby blanket.
So my charge to you, if you’ve wanted to help out somewhere but you don’t know what to do because you’re an introvert or shy or for whatever reason, is to think about what you could do, how you could help with some cause that is meaningful to you.
There’s probably something in your life history that can tell you where you should put your focus.
Think about your talents, how you might be of service in a less-conventional way. Maybe you can write letters, emails or blog posts on behalf of a cause (I used to do the newsletter for the local Sierra Club chapter for free). Maybe you can create something that can be auctioned off as a fundraiser. Maybe you can knit hats, or sew blankets, or collect goods for care packages.
When we all do something, it lightens the load all around.
What can you do?
If you’re helping out in an unconventional way, I’d love to hear about it!