How to Give Back Without Breaking the Bank

As a college student, you’re familiar with making sacrifices and getting by on very limited resources, but there is always someone else facing an even greater challenge. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference in someone else’s life, even if you are low on cash. Listed below are a few examples of some great ways to give back during this holiday season without jeopardizing your own financial situation.

Donate Used Items

There are many organizations that appreciate donations of used clothing, household items, books and furniture such as the Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, Big Brother Big Sister and Goodwill. Many of them will come to your home to pick up the items if you set up an appointment or leave the items out on designated pick-up days. You also may be able to donate locally through a church, community outreach center, homeless shelter or local library. Be sure to ask for a receipt for the items you donate for tax filing purposes, as you may be able to deduct the fair market value.

Lend a Helping Hand

Consider giving the gift of time by volunteering at a soup kitchen or food bank. If you like to build things and don’t mind getting a little dirt under your nails, help build homes for people though Habitat for Humanity or simply offer to do some yard work for an elderly neighbor. You can also put your skills and talents to good use by becoming a mentor or reading tutor; sewing/knitting clothing or blankets for needy children and families; or playing music at an elder care center. Not exactly sure what you’d like to do or where your talents might make the most difference? Find your perfect match by checking with your college’s community outreach office or by visiting

Donate Blood or Become an Organ Donor

Did you know that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 41,000 donations are needed every day?   Visit the American Red Cross to find out how you can be part of the solution today. Organ, eye and tissue donations aren’t easy things to think or talk about, but they do provide a real second chance for thousands of people each year. Visit to find out more about the program and how to sign up.

Play Games Online

You can also put your time online to good use by generating virtual donations., for example, donates rice to the World Food Program for every answer you get right. If you’re really into gaming, consider organizing a marathon to raise donations for Child’s Play or other organizations.

Have other ideas? Please post a comment and share your suggestions with other college students.

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