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Make a Difference

Uplifting Ideas for Lifting Up Others

Channel your pride for progress and continue the march forward by helping others during Black History Month. Adults, children and entire communities will benefit from your can-do commitment.

Brighten a child’s future

Black History Month is the perfect time to use your spirit of service to work with children and inspire future generations.

Homeless youth living in shelters have basic needs you can easily fulfill. Organize a drive for items such as canned food, shoes, soap, toothbrushes and casual clothes. Or just spend time with them at the local shelter, reading aloud or playing games. All shelters can use help too—especially with basic tasks like answering phones, typing letters and stuffing envelopes.

Another great way to help kids in your neighborhood: Be a mentor. Offer to help with reading, school assignments or teaching financial literacy. Many schools are also happy to have community members talk to kids about topics like self-esteem, bullying and gang violence. Or volunteer with organizations like StandUp For Kids, which provide support for homeless children, through clubs at high schools and colleges.

Don’t forget to get the kids you know involved in helping too. Try hosting a pajama drive. If you have kids (or grandkids), invite them and their friends to have a sleepover and ask them to bring an extra pair of gently used pajamas for donation. Read about more ways to get the whole family involved, kids included.

Help ensure no child goes hungry Many students who qualify for school lunch during the week may not do as well over the weekend. Start or join a Backpack Buddies group to provide them with vital nourishment every day. Many organizations partner to provide this service along with local schools and districts; simply search the term to see the results near you.

Help older adults near you

There are plenty of ways to help others in your community during Black History Month and throughout the winter season. If snow is still falling, help shovel a driveway or walk, or spread salt to prevent icy slips and falls. Or take volunteering indoors: Help broaden someone’s view by enhancing their literacy skills .

Contribute to the legacy of Black History Month by preserving life stories of the elderly. Spend time with older friends and neighbors in your community. Where were they when Dr. King led his march on Washington? What do they remember? Help them share these stories in a website or blog—or just in a journal for themselves.

Beautify your community and strengthen your connections

Chances are, your physical surroundings could use a helping hand, too. Spruce up your neighborhood by picking up trash along roads, cleaning up a local creek or river, or pitching in to clean up graffiti around town. Many communities have adopt-a-block programs that encourage ongoing graffiti and litter control. If your town doesn’t have volunteer clean-up groups already, start one! (Our “start a project ” guides can help.)

You can help improve safety by increasing familiarity among neighbors. Get everyone thinking now about a community garden for the spring, or start a neighborhood walking group to connect with others and to help everyone stay healthy. You can also join a neighborhood watch group—great for both meeting new friends and making a real difference.

Make a difference close to home

Help promote justice and equality in your community. simply visit Create the Good and run a search on the words "justice" and “equality” to locate the many opportunities near you.

​Spread the word

What better way to contribute to the march of pride and progress than to volunteer at your local public library or historical society? The more you read up, learn and share about Dr. King and his work, the more you can teach and inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

Dr. King once said that he was a “drum major” for justice, peace and righteousness. Imagine all the good you can do by helping people march in step for such causes.

AARP Black Community

AARP Black Community

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips 50+ Americans to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community.

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