Toot your own horn here! What very small but important things do you do...

…that make the world a better place?

I have two things. One, I teach Sunday School. True, it’s only 45 minutes once a week, but I like to think that somehow, in some way, the Forces of Chaos are being kept at bay by the fact of people everywhere simply showing up, week after week, to do The Right Thing with no thought of recompense, whatever it may be, and that I’m doing my small part to help the thing along.

Second, I am the Official “Necktie and Shirt Combination” Consultant for the Better Half. Don’t laugh–it’s a very small but important job. You would know this if you’d ever seen him in the light blue shirt with the dark blue, maroon, and gold tie. But not to worry–DDG is on the job! For 2 seconds every Sunday morning, I am on the front lines, Planet Earth’s warrior in the Department of Visual Defense. A simple “um–no, I don’t think so”, and the world is safe for another week.

I work in a non-profit religious organization. So I’d like to think I do lots of things that make the world a better place (knowing full well that some dopers would disagree).

But things that aren’t job-related? Well … for three years, as a volunteer I directed a statewide team of teenagers that did music and drama all across the state. Now that I’ve moved and have no obligation to be in contact with the kids from the team, I’m still a frequent sounding board on all subjects for three or four of the wonderful teens from that team. They e-mail me with everything from spiritual questions to dating questions to concerns about their relationships with parents. I spend significant time corresponding with 'em, encouraging 'em, reminding 'em that THEY can make the world a better place. And I really enjoy it. They teach me, too.

Does that count? :slight_smile: It’s not easy to toot your own horn.

Every year there are two things that I insist on doing for my neighbor’s two daughters;

  1. Make Easter baskets for them. When I first started doing this I would buy straw baskets and then get some roses and remove all of the thorns from them. I would then take florist’s (green) wire and weave flowers around the rim and handle of both baskets. Some years there were hand dyed eggs in them. Other years there would be break-open eggs full of candy. Every year there is a chocolate bunny for them to nibble the ears off of.

Now that they are getting a little older, I go to a local chocolatier and buy them baskets made entirely of chocolate, basket and all. They are some of the only girls who get to brag that they got to eat their Easter baskets too.

  1. Make Christmas stockings for them. Big red velvet stockings full of all sorts of goodies. Bubble gum tape, special beef jerky from a local smoke house, cashews and lots of other stuff. I always include chocolate Santas, a lifesaver “book” and the old fashioned balsa wood gliders. That way there is something for them to play with too.

I use a string bag when I can. I’m TRYING to switch our family over to using string bags for groceries, too, at least dry groceries. I still want my poultry and meat in a plastic bag, thank you!

In past years, I’ve done volunteer work at the library (mostly sorting and shelving books) but I haven’t been able to this year, because of health issues. But I will occasionally volunteer for stuff that I think is important.

I have also discouraged my husband from wearing plaid pants. Ever. If you saw him in these pants, you would thank me.

Me? Why I speak for the trees. The small puppies, kittens, babies, anything without a voice, I’ll exploit…er, interpret.

You see that sagamore tree? Its saying fill Zoggie’s stomach with chocolate chip cookies. And that small terrier? he wants you to make me some hot fudge brownies. Yep, very important, you see because without me, WHO WOULD SPEAK FOR THE VOICELESS?

Don’t know if this counts, because I do it for a living; it’s an avocation as well as a vocation but…I’m a librarian. Too often it’s budgets and laws and redtape, but the reality still comes down to people tapping into humanity’s written heritage.

That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. What I miss most is “working the floor”, watching the fire catch hold and peoples eyes light up. It’s true, and it happens, every day. It sounds so stupid, but the library is a place of constant, quiet miracles. After all these years I’m still awed and privileged watching what “ordinary” people do–and are–given the simplest of tools. I work among miracles–and I’m still awed by it.

Otherwise…I cook huge batches of soups, stews, casseroles, whatever and give them to the local homeless shelter. This isn’t really charity, because I love cooking and providing. They do my heart more good by enjoying the fixin’s than I get making them.

I should do so much more, face to face, but for now this will do.

Veb

I don’t know if this counts either, because it’s my job. But I work with mentally retarded people. Someone has to do it. They are such sweet people.

I don’t always feel like I do all I can, but I suppose I do OK. There is always, always more to be done, a better job to be done. And I think I can improve myself with that. But - I am not bad at this job. I truly do care about the people I help look after.

I have other abilities and skills, and have gotten the impression from some of my friends that they think I am “wasting” my talents in this job. Sure, in a way that is true - I didn’t go to college for this. But, not everyone is good at this job, has the stomach for it. (It’s not for the squeamish.) And I seem to do it OK.

The people I look after have families, parents and siblings. I believe that they feel some small comfort knowing that someone who gives a damn is looking after their loved ones.

Well, yosemitebabe, I don’t think it totally counts, because it’s not “very small,” but it is “important,” and I’m glad you shared it. :slight_smile: I’ve considered that line of work at times. (I’m still in college now.) My sister is mentally retarded, although pretty functional. I know how trying she can be to live with, so I have great respect for you and your line of work. :slight_smile:

At times in my past I’ve done different things to help the world in my own small way, but it changes a lot.

Consistently? I give smiles to everyone. I wish people Happy Birthday. I bring in candy and food to share at work. I rescue stray pets and get them home if I can. I’m the official provider of small things that people find themselves in need of…example, I keep a sewing kit, a small first aid kit, etc. at work, and people know this and come to me for small needs. I give hugs. I hold doors for people. I just generally care for people.

I don’t do it anymore, cuz it was too much of an emotional strain on me, but I used to volunteer to train and rehabilitate abused and neglected pets. We would get them to trust people again (it was so heart-breaking to see the reactions of some of these animals just because you walked into the room!) and then screen the applicants who wanted to adopt them to make sure they got good homes.

[tangent]
The animals are held at the Humane Society while we work with them, with a little tag on the bars saying they aren’t ready for adoption yet. One day, a family came in just as I was putting Dauber, an abused beagle, back in his cage. The boy saw Dauber and rushed over, telling his father that’s the dog he wanted. I explained that we were currently working with the dog and he wasn’t ready for adoption. The boy started crying, and his father explained that the boy’s name was Darin. Darin had cerebal palsey and grew up with a stuffed beagle as his favorite toy, and really wanted a beagle, but it cost too much to buy one from a pet store. I explained again that the dog was recoverng from an abusive situation and wasn’t ready to be someone’s pet just yet. The father understood and explained it to the boy, who asked me when the dog would be ready. I said I had no idea.

Every week, the family came back and Darin would ask me if Dauber was ready. Finally, after about 2 and a half months, Dauber seemed comfortable around people again. He would still cower if you played too roughly with him, but he no longer rolled on his back and peed himself when I entered the room. He didn’t flinch or snap defensively at my hand when I reached out to pet him. He trusted me enough to eat from my hand now. So I thought it was time to see how Dauber handled other people besides me. Of course, I waited till the weekend, when Darin and his parents showed up and invited them into the “Getting Acquainted” room as we called it. I explained I didn’t know how Dauber would react and that no one should move too quickly or reach out for Dauber’s head. (Placing your hand on top of an animal’s head is an act of dominance, and I didn’t know how Dauber would react.) We got into the room and Darin sat on the floor. Dauber went straight to him and let Darin pet him and rub his belly. Then Dauber let the father pet him. No cowering, no peeing, no snapping or growling. The family came by for the next three days in a row to spend time with Dauber in that room. Finally, Dauber was cleared to go home with them and I’ve never seen a little boy look happier.
[/tanget]

I also travel to Kentucky every year to volunteer in a Haunted Forest run at Halloween time. The proceeds go to LeBonheur Children’s hospital. (I have a 4 year old cousin down there who’s already had 4 open-heart surgeries.)

My own humble contributions: I donate blood (5+ gallons so far); I help make quilts for kids taken from their homes by DFYS (who are then put in Foster Homes). Sometimes all the kid has are the clothes they’re wearing. They are encouraged to pick a quilt from the pile and it is theirs forever. I help make quilts for kids in orphanages in other countries.

You know, that’s something I should do more often. I haven’t donated since I was in the Air Force. I especially feel the need to donate now, since I just had a pint given to me when I accidentally cut my wrist with a pocketknife a few days ago.

Well, this isn’t really me, it’s more like my parents but I get involved 'cause I live with 'em, but we do therapeutic foster care. Started out with teenagers, now we work with toddlers and little kids who’ve been abused physically or sexually. In between live-in cases, we do Respite work, taking other people’s live-in children for a weekend so their foster parents can have some time off; we try to make it like a vacation for the kids, too. Right now we’re fostering a 3 year old girl and her 4 year old brother.

Me personally? I work with an improv group that goes to schools and nursing homes around the region and does role-playing, kind of like a talk show, dealing with problems pertaining to the group we’re performing for. Like, with the old folks, we do skits about kids who don’t want to see their grandparents, and then we ask the audience what advice they would give to the kids; in front of middle schoolers, we do drug and peer pressure things, and ask the kids for advice. They don’t know we’re acting until after we’re done with the show, if we do it right. It’s just to get them to think more. We’ve been pretty inactive this year, though. I miss it.

As I mentioned on your GQ thread,

Great story Crunchy! Makes it so easy to believe you about the whole pocket knife thing.

I have donated plasma over 150 times.
I have coached youth sports for nearly 20 years, molding young minds to the importance of teamwork and fair play.

I keep the masses (or at least, the few) entertained with my skills as a tap dancer. It hasn’t gotten the ladies, but it keeps 'em happy.

I work in my church nursery.

I bike/walk/take public transportion as much as possible.

I’m friendly.

(::Toot toot::slight_smile:

I donate blood every eight weeks, and have gotten on a first-name basis with the folks at the local Red Cross center.

(Of course, one frustrating afternoon when I was trying to figure out how I could afford to buy a home, I looked at the gallons I’ve donated and calculated how much extra cash I’d have if I sold the plasma instead.)

I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter during my college years in Boston.

I’m there for my friends. I know what it’s like to be neglected, ignored, teased, etc, and it kills me to see anyone get the same treatment. Even if I’m falling apart myself, I’ll always support and care for them when they’re having troubles.

I always straighten the books in Spanish class. I know that’s probably not important at all, but orderliness is good.

I teach our church’s sixth-graders in Wednesday night youth group. I get frustrated sometimes because they don’t seem to be paying attention. I also get a little bothered at how boy crazy a couple of the girls are (boy crazy at 11??? :eek: )… but all in all, I love doing it.