Almost everyone has a bucket list (i.e., a list of things you want to do before you die or "kick the bucket"). There are plenty of reasons why you might choose to add an item to your bucket list. Perhaps you have a strong sense of wanderlust, and traveling is your major goal. Or maybe your list is mostly career-related or focused on unusual adventures that push you out of your comfort zone.
Some people's bucket lists include items like "volunteering" and "helping save the environment." It's important to give back to your community, but not everybody knows how. Sure, lending a hand at the local food bank is a great way to help out, but it's not for everyone.
If you'd like to tackle goals that will help make the world a better place, then check out these 14 items that you'll definitely want to add to your bucket list.
1. Habitat for Humanity Build
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization that works with local communities in all 50 states across the US (as well as approximately 70 countries around the world). Strap on a tool belt, pop on a hard hat and prepare to use your muscles, and you'll be ready to volunteer to work alongside a family in need to help build them their very own home. If you're interested, Habitat has various options for volunteers, including finding a project in your area, working on a "Women Build" or "Veterans Build," and helping with youth programs.
2. Invite Someone Without a Family to a Holiday Dinner
No one should spend the holidays alone unless they want to. If you have food to share when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, consider sending out an open invitation to those in your life who might be alone to let them know that they're welcome in your home and at your table.
3. Run a Donation Drive for Your Local Food Bank
Food banks tend to get the bulk of their donations around the holidays but can struggle throughout the rest of the year. That's why they need people like you to help out by running donation drives to make sure their shelves are filled year-round. Check in with your local food bank first to ask what it needs (e.g., perhaps it has a lot of canned goods but desperately needs baby formula) so that you can focus on that.
4. Donate Blood
Even though you might be nervous if you've never done it before, donating blood is easy and incredibly rewarding. Did you know that a single blood donation can help save up to three lives? Blood donations help patients of all ages who suffer from accidents or burns, go through heart surgery or organ transplants, or are battling cancer. According to the Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the US needs blood, which is why donors are always needed and why it's the perfect item to add to your bucket list if you want to help out.
5. Become an Organ Donor
If you haven't signed up to be an organ donor, it's definitely something you should consider. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, as of April 2018 more than 114,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list. By donating the organs you no longer need when you die, you can save the lives of others. When you register, most states let you choose which organs and tissues you want to donate, and you can update your status at any time. You can register as an organ donor right now and tick another item off your do-good bucket list.
6. Adopt/Foster a Pet
Humane societies and shelters are often full of fur babies who need loving homes. If you've been thinking about adding a pet to your family, check out the adorable animals who are looking to be adopted. Or consider fostering animals temporarily while they wait for their forever (or furever) homes.
7. Pay for a Stranger’s Coffee
The next time you grab yourself a coffee, pay for one or two additional drinks and let the cashier know that they're for the next two people in line or for two people who might not have the extra cash for their own coffee. It will be a pleasant surprise for the recipients, and it might even inspire them to pay it forward.
8. Volunteer as a Big Sister or Brother
Having a positive influence on a young boy's or girl's life can be key to keeping that child on a path toward happiness and success. That's why, since 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been matching children with caring adults who can help kids and teens navigate risky behaviors and focus on academics. If you have the time and heart to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, it would be the perfect bucket list item to help the next generation.
9. Tree Planting
If you love the outdoors and are feeling an eco-friendly vibe, then give tree planting a try. Whether you do it once or for an entire summer, transplanting tree seedlings and tiny baby trees can help to reclaim an area that's in need of some plant-friendly TLC. If you're interested, check out One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization focused on global reforestation.
10. Set Up a Free Little Library
Have you ever come across a Little Free Library? They're small (usually adorable) boxes that people set up outside of their houses to encourage free book exchanges in their community. Plans and tips to build and set up your own little library exist online, although if you do a quick Google search, you'll see that some people take their designs to the extreme, creating tiny buildings that mimic their own homes or even famous monuments.
11. Hold a Clothing Swap
If your closet is looking a little cluttered and you'd like to try out some new styles, consider hosting a clothing swap. Invite some friends over, and ask them to bring a bag or two of clothes that they're willing to trade. Make things fun by popping on some music and serving some wine before you let the fashion fun begin. Anything that doesn't get taken can be donated to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
12. Spontaneously Send Someone in Your Life Flowers
Sending people flowers on their birthday or to congratulate them on a hard-earned accomplishment is always appreciated. But bring a smile to a friend's or family member's face by spontaneously sending flowers. Be sure to let them know that it's simply because you were thinking about them, want them to know how much they mean to you, and hope they have a beautiful day.
13. Volunteer as an Elections Worker
Do your civic duty and make sure that everyone gets the chance to have their say in our government by volunteering as an elections worker. Whether you're helping people get to the polls or are showing your neighbors how to cast their votes, volunteering during an election is a great way to keep the democratic process rolling.
14. Do All of Your Shopping at Small Businesses
Small stores, family-run restaurants, and independent businesses often struggle to compete with the big-box chains. If you're already an avid supporter of indie endeavors, then that's awesome. But if you're eager to spend your money where it will really make a difference, then try doing all of your shopping at small and independent businesses for just one month or holiday season and see how it goes. It might become your new go-to for fabulous finds!
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