giving back

Service Ideas: 10 Ways to Research and Give Back to Your Community

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Service—Your Season of Service challenge this week is to research, or in other words, to systematically investigate and study things so that you can gain a new understanding of them. This isn't necessarily about doing anything physical per se; it's more about acquiring knowledge that will make you more desirous of and able to perform simple acts of service. If you lack the resources— either financial, physical, or mental—to help anyone outside of your immediate circle, try one of these simple ideas and you'll find that it's not as hard as you think, and you stand to gain so much.

10 Bite-Size Ways to Research Service

  1. Research three articles on the benefits of service, like this one here, to motivate you to serve.
  2. Identify one or two causes that are closest to your heart, and research a few nonprofits in your area that are devoted to that cause. is great; so is your state nonprofit association, which you can look up here. is also a good resource because it allows you to submit and view reviews of nonprofits, view their financials, etc.
  3. Research about cancer so that you can increase your understanding of and sympathy for those who have it, and maybe learn about ways you can lower your risk of getting it.
  4. Research about mental illness by going to the National Institute of Mental Health's website or by Googling "mommy blogs (name of mental illness)."
  5. Participate in a research study measuring wisdom by completing this survey.
  6. Look up a geocache located in an aviary, arboretum, or public garden, and do a little bit of "field research" with your family. You can find these either by entering "research" or other similar term in the "cache name" field of the Hide and Seek a Cache page of
  7. Do a little virtual research project with your kids about Asia or the Middle East, using sites like, Wikipedia, or YouTube, and have a family night with food from one of those regions and a show-and-tell of what you found.
  8. Google "common ailments of old age," then do a little "hands-on research" to get a feel for what it's like to be old by wrapping some of your joints tightly in ace bandages to simulate arthritis, putting on ear muffs to mimic hearing loss, or making yourself shake vigorously for a few minutes to replicate the effects of Parkinsons Disease.
  9. Search for "autism" in Twitter, and choose a Tweeter to follow that can tell you more about what it's like to live with that disorder.
  10. Research what Amazon, or any other site or store at which you shop, is doing to be more environmentally-friendly, so that you can support those retailers whose practices best support our planet.

How Will You Give to Others This Week?

  • Do you have other ideas for topics to research or research vehicles?
  • Has researching, or seeking knowledge, made a meaningful difference for you this week?
  • How have others given to you this week and what difference has that made in your life?

How Else Can You Make a Difference This Season?

Make a meaningful difference this season by taking the Season of Service (SOS) Challenge. Here's how you can participate:

  • Commit to do one act of kindness/service based on the week's challenge.
  • Leave a comment with ideas relating to the week's challenge as well as your experience(s) performing it.
  • Enter to win each week's giveaway. Check out this week's prizes from T Mobile by clicking here.
  • Join #gno this Tuesday on Twitter to connect with other Mom It Forward moms about the challenge.
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