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Season of Giving: Five Ways to “Give Differently” This Year

Each winter, everyone seems to get into the giving spirit – which is great! There are a ton of ways to make the world a better place – like making an end-of-year donation to an organization you care about, volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But maybe you’re in the mood to change things up and do something different? If so, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 unconventional ways to give in this season of giving.

 Donate Your Old Phone. MTV Act and are running an awesome campaign to let you donate your own cell phone and help survivors of domestic abuse.

Get Swabbed. Help save a life – all by getting your cheek swabbed and getting signed up for a bone marrow donation registry. Find out how at Gift of Life or Swab a Cheek.

Donate Your Hair. Got lovely long tresses? There are lots of organizations that let you donate your locks to make wigs for cancer patients, and other people experiencing medical hair loss. Check out these organizations to get started.

Write Someone’s BubbeCheck out Reach Out America’s pen pal program to connect with an elderly person as a pen pal. Make a new friend and make their day – and yours!

Donate Your Artistic (or Volunteering) Talent. Life Beat’s Hearts & Voices program organizes artists to perform for people living with AIDS in healthcare facilities throughout New York City. Got talent to share? Volunteer to play, sing, dance, or perform. Or, volunteer to help set up and run the events – no musical skills required.

Got another untraditional way to give? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld!

Trash Your Trash: Spread the Word About Recycling

Breakfast yogurt. Gum wrapper. Takeout lunch. Glossy magazine. Shopping bag. Plastic water bottle. Each of these daily items may seem small and insignificant, but bundled together they add up to a whole lot of trash. Four pounds to be exact – the average amount that each person throws away (and that ends up clogging up landfills) every single day!

Thankfully, our friends over at have teamed up with Nestlé Waters to, well, do something about America’s trash problem. Their goal: to spread the word about the importance of recycling and double the country’s recycling rates by 2018.

The initiative, called Don’t Be Trashy, invites participants to check out some recycling statistics, share them with friends via Facebook and Twitter, and select a sustainability project idea or two (everything from recycling 25 items to talking to a school principal about getting recycling bins) to begin making an on-the-ground difference. To sweeten the deal (as if a cleaner environment weren’t gift enough!) they’re giving away great prizes like free movie tickets and $500 college scholarships to lucky participants.

The Jewish tradition, believe it or not, is also on board with recycling and sustainability. The mitzvah of bal taschit (do not destroy) serves as a reminder of our ongoing responsibility to keep the natural world clean and healthy by avoiding waste. Wanna learn more? Check out the hilariously informative video on bal taschit below (featuring a cartoon version of Al Gore!). Then, help spread the word about recycling – and trash your trash!

Let us know how you’re getting the word out about recycling – leave a comment below tweet us at @repairtheworld.

Make a Fashion Statement: Donate Your Clothes

Let’s face it: fashion is everywhere. Last week was the Golden Globes…which means that now, we’re all checking out the best and worst-dressed of them all. And sure, it’s totally fun to get some new winter gear–pick out some great new kicks, hot new trends, find a good sale, or make a bold fashion statement. But we also know that some people aren’t worrying about being chic or making a statement. Thousands of people hardly have enough to keep themselves clothed at all – especially during the colder winter months.

This season, instead of focusing on what’s new, what’s chic, and what “must-haves” to buy, why not focus on what we think the hottest trend is this year: giving back.  Yes, Jewish texts remind us to “share bread with the hungry,” and “clothe the naked.” In other words, we should help provide comfort with those who are less fortunate. But it also just feels kind of good.

So why not start a new trend and get a get a jump on your spring cleaning? Take a look through your closet for those “gently used” items to donate, or launch a clothing drive at your school, synagogue or in your community. You will be all the rage.

A few great organizations that accept clothing donations, and use the proceeds to help those in need:

  • Teens for Jeans: ( FYI, we learned from DoSomething that one in three homeless people in the U.S. is under the age of 18). To help  out, has teamed up with Aéropostale to run their annual Teens for Jeans donation program . Start a donation program at your school to help others and potentially win some cool prizes.
  • Housing Works: This NYC-based organization takes donations of clothes, shoes, accessories and more and sells them at their 12 thrift shops across the city. The money raised helps to fund their work around HIV/AIDS advocacy and services.
  • Brown Elephant: The proceeds of donated items purchased in this Chicago-based network of thrift shops help fund under-insured or uninsured patients at a local health clinic.

Pretty amazing stuff.

We’re no  experts, but we think sometimes the boldest  statement you can make has absolutely nothing to do with what you’re wearing.

Know of another great clothing donation opportunity? Let us know about it below, or on twitter at @repairtheworld.

Back to School Service!

While you join the hundreds of thousands of kids around the country who are heading Back to School, why not stand out — and head back to service?

Sure, the new school year is a great time to test a new hairstyle, new kicks, try out for the school play or a sports team. And maybe you’ll finally get that date with the boy or girl you’ve been crushing on. But the new school year is also a great time to give back to your community and the planet by picking an afterschool volunteer project to stick with throughout the school year.

Just a few hours a week can make a tremendous difference to people, animals and the environment – all of which really need it! AND, you’re guaranteed to meet new and interesting people, feel great, and learn something that doesn’t come from a textbook. Not to mention that you can also get some awesome experience that impresses universities and potential employers.

Interested? Great. Here’s how you can get started!
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