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There’s a name for accepting things as they are even when you can clearly do something about it – it’s called apathy. 

You see, a lot of people dream of joining the government without actually understanding the etymology of the term – governance. The truth is that so many are obsessed with federal and state policies without pausing for a moment to think about what kind of difference they can make in their own community.

At a local (community) level, there’s so much power and initiative for grabs – it’s just that not a lot of people are actually interested. The ironic part is that this is where you could make a lot of good. 

Here are just a few examples you should keep in mind. 

  1. Help your local food pantry

The simplest, most direct way to help the local community would be to donate food to your local pantry. The thing is that while donating money to organizations to eradicate world hunger is a noble cause, a lot of people are suspicious of what good it does.

The truth is that people believe the results when they see them. Whenever there’s an investment of money involved, unless you’re a participant or unless you know the people running the pantry, you’ll always have your doubts.

Now, we won’t go into whether or not these doubts are justified. The case studies on this topic are too few, and their methodology is questionable. This question is not even that relevant when there’s an easy way to resolve the problem – you donate the food directly.

This way, there are two advantages involved from the start. First, it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to actually see the results of your involvement. This has nothing to do with wanting self-gratification (although, if you do this, you’ve more than earned it).

Second, it gets you involved more actively. You’re actually going out and picking the ingredients yourself. You get to set the food quality range, pick up the quantity, and see where every single dollar goes. This will make you appreciate the work of people there a lot more. 

  1. Advocacy

People who have trouble coming up with civic engagement ideas might want to start with something a bit simpler. We’re, of course, talking about advocacy. Sure, it can be a bit of work, but it’s, in general, a lot less time- and effort-consuming.

First of all, you get to pick a cause that doesn’t even have to be that political. The bottom line is that a lot of people have trouble standing up for some of the things they believe in public. This is so because they’re aware of the fact that the question could be a hot debate at the moment, and they want to avoid getting the heat. 

What you can simply do is pick a single local problem or issue to contend with. This way, your efforts are focused, your goal is attainable, and it’s pretty easy to track your progress.

This activism comes in several different forms. You could petition the government and try to get enough of your neighbors involved for someone higher up to actually pay attention. You could try to persuade local government and businesses to chip in. Here, you can leverage your own influence and networking. 

Ultimately, the best thing about advocacy is that it helps you understand how lobbying works. This is one of those words that almost carries a stigma in modern society (and unjustly so).

  1. Volunteer

For a lot of people, this is the optimal form of helping out your local community. Why? Well, because it involves your own free time, a finite resource that you have to sacrifice for something that really matters.

Sure, working in order to earn money that you’ll donate is also a form of help, but this just feels more personal. It involves you actually talking to people involved in the project. It’s about personally helping those who need your help and lending your hand to those who are already on the front lines.

There are so many ways to find the right place to volunteer. You can look up locally available venues and actions and start asking around. Volunteering at a pantry is one option. You could also work with youth and try to help make learning fun.

The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that this is not all sunshine and roses. It can be a lot of hard work. Now, since there’s no payment, you’re spending your own free time, and there’s no one forcing you to stay there, you’ll be tempted to give up on many occasions. You need to resist this urge, and the easiest way to ensure that is to find something that you’re actually passionate about. 

  1. Act on a personal level

Not every action that improves the local community is one requiring a massive movement or a trend. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to check into some of your friends and family members and offer to lend them a hand. Do this for enough people, enough times, and you’ll start making a difference.

Take care of yourself and others.

You can also support the local community by buying from local businesses. This helps the local community out on so many different levels. First, it helps build stronger connections since people in these businesses will notice your attentiveness. Second, it keeps the money within the community (circulating in this financial ecosystem). Lastly, it reduces pollution caused by traffic

In the introduction, we’ve mentioned apathy as a big reason for not getting more involved. Well, involvement on a personal level can show you just how easy it is to make a huge difference with just a bit of effort.

Wrap up

The amount of involvement is completely up to you. It depends on your resources, time, and priorities. Still, it’s best if you find a way to help that’s deeply personal or interesting to you. Don’t be fooled by how cool it looks; helping your local community can be incredibly exhausting. By feeling like you’re doing something that matters to you, you’ll make it a lot simpler.