7 Little Ways to Make A Big Difference

food bank

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on The author has graciously allowed us to repost it here.


These days, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of so much negative news. It seems as if those at the top have all the juice – and they get away with stuff the rest of us never could. It’s enraging. No wonder we’re just trying to get through our day until we can kick back with a beer  (or three) at the end of it.

However, as Patti Smith once sang, “People have the power.” And you might be surprised at how easy it is to do some good stuff in your community.

It feels great, has a positive ripple effect, and offers a sense of empowerment – which we all need right about now. Here are some simple actions any one of us can take.


Beyond disaster scenarios, the need for blood is ongoing. It takes hardly any time at all, and you get a cookie afterward. Who doesn’t love cookies?  Learn how and where to donate near you.


Whether it’s a one-day cleanup event or ongoing involvement with a local food bank, volunteering has a real impact in your community. Here’s a great resource for finding a local opportunity that matches your interests and schedule.


A letter to the editor of your local paper is a terrific way to advocate for a cause and attract the attention of both local officials and your representatives in D.C. Don’t worry about not being a literary genius: these tips will help you craft an effective LTE or Op-Ed that works.


Yes, it’s super-easy to just click on Amazon or hit up the big box stores for stuff you need. But it’s the small hardware store, bookstore, or non-chain restaurant that is the lifeblood of your community. The money spent at those places supports your neighbors and goes right back into the local economy.


Working in retail or the service industry is never easy, but since COVID, the level of risk and abuse these hardworking people take has been turned up to “11.” Plus, the minimum wage has yet to be raised to any substantial level. Next time you hire an Uber, pick up your coffee or have a helpful person load your car with stuff from the garden center, show your appreciation with a generous tip. It will help their budget and also let them know that they’re respected.


These days, your library does more than just let you check out books. They offer a safe, welcoming gathering space (and often, a way for abuse victims to access help). There’s wi-fi and computers for job seekers, classes/lectures for different age groups and interests. If you haven’t visited your local branch lately, you might be surprised at what cool things are available.


Do you have a skill that might benefit someone else? There are plenty of Adult-Ed or after-school programs that would love to hear from you. Maybe you can turn a bored kid onto photography or teach someone needing a career change the basics of coding. It’s a gratifying way to pay it forward.

Despite the firehose of negative news, we are NOT powerless. One small gesture can have an impact that resonates far beyond the gesture itself.

-Cindy Grogan

Photo: Foodbank (Thinton 7 via Wikimedia Commons)

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Cindy Grogan is a longtime freelance writer, having worked in a ton of different industries, writing a ton of different things. Her background in radio is a natural fit for her love of music – anything from the Beatles to Hank Williams, Sr. to Prokofiev. A rabid consumer of pop culture, metaphysics, and politics, Cindy finds the smartass tendencies that once got her grounded now serve her well in Facebook arguments. Oh, and she also loves cats.

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