My idea – 100 altruistic actions in 2014

I have had an idea and want to write it down so I can keep track of it, so have created this blog.

My motivation to do this is that I hold a great deal of love for people and the planet, but am also very frustrated by social and environmental injustice. I believe every person can create change, and already try to live in a way that is environmentally-considerate and compassionate to others. But I want to do more.

So I have set myself a challenge: to undertake (at least) a hundred altruistic/pro-active actions this year.

Some are going to be bigger, some are going to be smaller, but they have to be out of my ordinary routine to count (with possible exceptions, but it cannot be something that is already an everyday norm of my life). The actions have to be pro-active, not passive. And shouldn’t have direct benefits to me.

My aim of this challenge is to do good things… that help people, the planet, or at least bring a happiness and spread love to others. My ‘philanthropic vision’ is on quite a small budget, so I suppose I also want to see that it is possible to create change even without having huge resources available to you.

I am not doing this with an expectation of this ever being read. I am not doing this because I want to be seen as a ‘good person’. I just want to see how easy or hard it is to do positive things for people and planet a) regularly and b) on a budget.

If there is anyone reading this, thanks for taking the time.

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Actions so far:

1. Regular donations to Oxfam

2. Regular donations to Greenpeace

3. Offered to lend to a stranger

4. Bought a lottery ticket for a homeless man

5. Gave baby stuff to a to-be mum

6. Started a charity

7. Gave a hitch hiker a lift and lunch

8. Litter picking

9. Voluntary essay marking

10. ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge

11. Free C.V. and cover letter proof-reading

12. Cake for SPCA volunteers

13. Helping people with ‘emotional baggage’

14. Intellectual disability befriending programme

15. Spread the altruistic actions challenge

16. Saved a hedgehog

17. Rehydrated a homeless man

18. Donated to an eating disorder charity

19. Sweets for special needs children charity

20. Earth hour

21. Thank you letter to rubbish collectors

22. & 23. Donations to Oxfam & paying it forward

24. Cards for people in hospital

25. Supplies for daycare centre

26. Baking for (140) people

27. Breakfast for a homeless man

28. Give lots of stuff to a charity shop

29. Signed several petitions

30. Helped promote peace

31. Care package for someone in need

32. Set up stall with free plants

33. Thanks and Easter wishes to people who help the community

34. Supported an animal welfare centre

35. Wrote to someone living in a war-zone

36. Became a penpal with someone in prison

37. Sent a surprise to my ‘sponsor child’

38. Worry dolls for anxious people

39. Warm drink on a cold night for a homeless person

40. Served at a soup kitchen

41. (Further) reduced the ecological impact of our household

42. Cooked food for a soup kitchen

43. ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign

44. Encouraged bees

45. Donation to Alzheimer’s research

46. Motivation for people with mental health difficulties

47. Planted trees

48. Adopted a cat

49. Wildlife-friendly garden

50. Free fruit for neighbours & hospital

51. Pushchair for mama-in-need

52. Employment help for unemployed

53. Warm clothes for homeless friends

54. ‘Random Act of Kindness’, passed on a parking permit

55. Medicine money for a stranger

56. & 57. Found a home for a couple sleeping rough & home-starter pack

58. Facilitated volunteering to help a refugee family

59. Set up soup kitchen events in my local area

Number 59 – Set up soup kitchen events in my local area

Through my involvement in soup kitchens in the city I live in, I have come to have a better understanding of poverty in the area I live in. Over a month ago I started running a weekly food serving in my local area (which has many people struggling financially). Yesterday, I introduced a second day in to the initiative, and am really happy that both evenings are successful. The number of patrons is small and growing, which is perfect for allowing us all to build relationships with each other and to find out the needs of the patrons.

Number 58 – Facilitated volunteering to help a refugee family

This action required such little time and effort from my part I was not sure whether to count it or not. But I have decided to add it to my list after all, because it is an example of something pro-active that can be done with barely any resources (just a little time and research).

A while ago, my step-mother-in-law mentioned to me that she was interested in volunteering to help refugees settle in to their new home and get to know the local area. Then last night I was at a networking event for work and I met someone who works with refugees. She told me the person to contact regarding volunteering, and then all I needed to do was spend a little time on the internet finding his contact details and passing them on to my step-mum-in-law.

Volunteering with refugees in New Zealand: https://www.redcross.org.nz/what-we-do/in-new-zealand/refugee-services/

Helping refugees around the world: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c344.html

56. & 57. Found a home for a couple sleeping rough & home-starter pack

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to help a young couple that have been sleeping rough each night to find a home. It has been so much more challenging than I imagined. With poor credit and payment records, renting has proven to be an almost impossible option at this point. I managed to find a place where they could live and pay board, but because of communication and organisational issues I still struggle to comprehend, their moving off the streets took extra days. Yesterday everything was finally ready and I dropped them off at their new home, where they will be living with a lady who is trained as a psychologist and seems eager to offer them a comfortable and stable home environment.

As a little gift, I made the couple a home-starter pack, to last them for their first few days. In it I put pasta and tomato sauce, cereal and milk, bananas, some washing powder, soap, shampoo, a sponge, tampons and a few more items. I spoke to them again today and they said all is going well, as did the lady that is hosting them. I really hope this is can be a new beginning for them.

Number 55 – Medicine money for a stranger

Yesterday, Saturday, while I was out I saw a man ask a few people if they had any small change. He walked past me, but I stopped and asked him how much he needed. He said he wasn’t sure, but he needed to get a prescription for painkillers as he had recently had a tooth operation and needed medication to manage the pain as the dentist was closed until Monday. He explained he lived in the country and there was no pharmacy there, so he had come all the way to town but upon arriving here had realised he had left his wallet at home.

Regardless of whether this story was true or not, I decided I wanted to help him out. Because if it was true, then I would do it, and if it wasn’t true, he was still in a position where he needed to ask people for money. So I gave him all the change I had on me, which was about $8. He had a couple of other coins as well, so hopefully he had $10 – enough to get 2 prescriptions.

Number 54 – ‘Random Act of Kindness’, passed on a parking permit

Yesterday while I was in town I purchased a parking permit for 1 hour of parking, but only ended up needing 10 minutes. As I returned to the car, I looked around for someone to give it to and managed to stop someone purchasing a new permit just in time. When I gave him my permit he was really grateful.

While this act is not something spectacular, I rarely find myself with the opportunity to do this (as usually I am running back to the car park with seconds to spare before the permit expires) and so I decided to count it as an act, even if it is just a mini-act.

Number 53 – Warm clothes for homeless friends

Over the past few months and especially in the last couple of weeks I have come to know many of the patrons at the soup kitchen. I feel I am no longer just an anonymous volunteer to them, but they actually recognise me and greet me when they see me, and we get in to conversations. I am so happy about this.

This is not one singular act that has happened, more of an on-going thing… basically I have started keeping my eye open for free clothes, gloves, shoes, blankets, etc, that I can pass on to other people. There is a place called the Koha Shed (Koha is a Maori custom of gifting) where people can donate and/or take items as they please, with no money involved. It is specifically aimed at helping people in need and I am so moved by the kindness of the people who have converted their garage in to this community service.

It is a bit out of the centre of town where many of the homeless people stay, so I have started going there and picking up suitable items, and distributing them through the soup kitchen. Last week, I was able to give a lady some gloves and today we got coats and shoes for two young men who were in t-shirts and bare feet. I am so glad, as it really upset me that the system is failing these youths so much that in mid-winter they are unable to clothe themselves.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Koha-Shed-Hamilton/615527071859291

Number 53 – Employment help for unemployed

This is something I have been wanting to do for ages, and especially since I have started volunteering at the soup kitchen (see post ‘Number 40′ and ‘Number 42′). Today as I was volunteering there I really got talking to some of the patrons. There are people with interesting and unexpected stories.

Anyway, two of the younger guys asked me if I could help them with their job applications, so I am meeting the individually next week to sit down and create C.V.’s and cover letters.