My 5 is a new series where I share five things on any topic that excites me. Ever since we began to give freely and learned the benefits of doing so, I find it fitting to do a post on giving to strangers. Why give to strangers? Why not? We all share this space and if we can’t show a little honest generosity, then all hope is lost for connection and community. If there is anything I think can make this world a bit better, it’s some more community.
1. Grow a Garden, Give it Away
When you buy a lemon, orange, avocado or anything else with seeds, keep the seeds. Plant them. Grow them. Or take your chives, garlic, pineapple tops/ends and plant them. There are numerous tutorials on Pinterest for doing so. I find the toilet paper roll method to be the best for seeds. Then once your seeds are the size of starter plants, like you would buy at the store, put them some place for the public to see and label them free. Afterall, the seeds didn’t cost you much of anything and a lot of times you can even find dirt for free on Craigslist. I have plans to do this in my apartment, set up a tiny table near the mailboxes and put up some free herbs and veggies.
2. Make Something, Bring an Animal Joy
We can’t exclude the non-human animals in the category of strangers, for we share this space with them too. Try making a toy or sewing a quilt and donate it to your local animal organization (be it a shelter or foster center, sometimes vet clinics are looking for this stuff too). This photo is from a non-profit no-kill cat shelter that Matt and I used to volunteer at. From working there, we learned just how helpful it was for people to donate beds, toys, and the like. Every day we came and opened up those gates, they darted out and skidded across the floor, chasing balls, flicking toys with their little feet and curling up on blankets. So you can either give a blanket or toy you already have or make one. Since sometimes money isn’t all they need. Sometimes a place to curl up, eat out of (so if you make pottery, try a little food dish!), and toss around is just as good. And if you don’t want to make something or have something to give, go to the free section of Craigslist and you’d be surprised some things on there that could make your local furrballs (and non-furry) quite happy.
3. Save Your Jars, Put Them on Craigslist
Though recycling is good, salvaging is always better. So save those jars. The best way to remove the labels, and this is what I do, is to: 1) soak them 2) scrape off as much as you can 3) mix one part baking soda to one part vegetable oil 4) spread it over the remains of your label, let it sit for about an hour and then rub it off using a towel and rubbing in circles. At one point I had 16 of these little puppies (apparently we like the Food for Lovers queso a lot). I removed the labels and posted them in the free section of Craigslist. I had 8 phone calls and 5 emails in that day (and that was before I quickly took down the ad because I had enough requests). The person who got them said she’d been wanting to organize for a while but just didn’t want to pay for jars to organize. So, save a stranger some money.
4. Find a Rock, Send a Message
Inspire people in unexpected ways by leaving a message on a rock. This is something I’ve been doing more of. It gives you a chance to do something fun and put a smile on someone’s face or merely give them hope. And the bonus – it’s no cost to you, with the exception of your creative energy and scouting out places to put your messages.
5. Visit the Library, Leave a Note
Grab a book. Write something nice. My favorite is to pick a book that inspired me and write something in it. Try not to use anything too thick for the note, otherwise it will start to damage the spine over time (a little tidbit I learned working at libraries). I prefer to use a skinny piece of scrap paper and a bit of tape. A post it note would work just fine too because they are thin and automatically stick-able. *I wrote this one in one of my favorite writing books, On Writing by Stephen King.
I’m working on another way to give back to strangers that I’m super excited about, but it will get its very own post!
What ways do you give back to strangers?