Lend a Helping Hand: 5 Ways to Give Back

Between finals, homework and the craziness of life, it’s always nice to take a step back from our every day routine. Volunteering and giving back to those in need — whether it’s through giving to The Salvation Army or helping a classmate at your school — is always a great way to spend some time. The following are a few ways we, as college students, can give back.

Buy a pair of TOMS (and join your TOMS Campus Club!)

Created by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Shoes is a company that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.

Mycoskie created the One For One Movement after he visited Argentina in 2006 and found that the children there had no shoes. By going barefoot, these children are susceptive to soil-transmitted diseases, cuts and sores. Sometimes children can’t attend school because shoes are a required part of their uniform.

If you go online to the TOMS website, or even find a store in town selling TOMS, you’ll find yourself looking at some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. They come in all different colors and styles. And it doesn’t stop there! TOMS also sells eyewear.In purchasing a pair of eyewear, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need.

According to the website,

“two-thirds of people who are blind are women, in part because many families in developing countries are more likely to pay for eye care for male family members.”

I especially loved the following sentence from the website:

“When more people are able to lead healthy, productive lives, entire communities have a chance at a better future.”

I completely agree.

TOMS Campus Club

Find out if your campus has a TOMS Campus Club. I joined the one at my campus my freshman year and helped spread the word about TOMS. We held various events throughout the year that helped raise awareness about the One For One Movement.

For one of the events, we had people sign up for a pair of TOMS and after our shoes arrived, we all painted them together on one of the lawns on campus. Below is the pair I painted. It was a lot of fun and great to know that the purchase of our shoes would be giving a pair of shoes to a child in need.

So go and buy yourselves a pair of TOMS shoes or sunglasses. Your purchase will be going to help a great movement make a great difference.

Tutor on campus

Another great way to give back is by tutoring on campus. Search around campus to see if any students in your college or major need some help. A little goes a long way.


Let’s face it. We all have a section in our closet of clothes we never wear but can’t seem to get rid of. Well, it’s finally time to say goodbye and part ways. You guys have had a good run, but it’s time to move on. If you haven’t worn that blue cable knit sweater in the past year, chances are it’s never going to see the light of day. On you, that is.

Gather up those sweaters and shirts you’ve had hiding in the back of your closet and take them to your local Goodwill! If you have any appliances, electronics or furniture you’re not using, bring that too.

Goodwill sales help fund job training programs and employment placement services for people without education or job experience as well as those with disabilities.

According to their website, Goodwill

“works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.”

So go on and pack up the stuff you’re not using. Sales from that will go a long way.

Free Rice

Do you find yourself spending countless hours online? Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr seeing visits from you too regularly? Put your internet usage to a good cause and check out FreeRice.com.

The non-profit website has vocabulary games in different subjects from English, math, humanities to chemistry! With every correct answer, Free Rice will give 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger through the United Nations World Food Programme.

Help end world hunger while exercising your vocabulary skills and check out this great website!

The Salvation Army

Ever have someone greet you with a smile, holding a red kettle while you walk into your local grocery store or Target?

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign began with just one kettle in 1891. Today, kettles are used across the country and even in places such as Japan and Chile.

When you put some extra cash in a red kettle, you’re helping The Salvation Army give to those in need. According to the website,

“The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.”

The most popular way of giving to The Salvation Army in your community is online. Check out their website for more information.

This Christmas season especially, help put a smile on someone’s face and give back.

Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

So go out and work that helping hand of yours. It’ll put a smile on the faces of those you’re helping and that’s what matters.

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Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja is a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo pursuing a degree in journalism with a concentration in news-editorial. At school, she can often be found in the Mustang Daily newsroom where she works as a copy editor. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.
Kassi Luja

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