Donating is the name of the game

Cayla Maurer, Verge Editor

While many people resolve to better themselves and their lives in 2015 as part of their New Year’s resolutions, I plan to better other people’s lives this year.

When I woke up Jan. 1, 2015, I checked my Facebook like usual, but what I saw was unusual. Many of my friends posted statuses about the ‘Pay It Forward’ campaign and encouraged people to respond ‘I’m in’ on their status to receive a surprise from that person throughout the year. It could be “anything from a book, a ticket, something homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!

After seeing that many people had posted about it, I decided to share it as well. Friends followed the directions and soon I had my list of people I would surprise throughout the year. But then I thought ‘why not help people I don’t know, too?’

I am so fortunate in my life with great friends and family, a nice car to get me from point A to point B and some spending money in my pocket. Why don’t I help people all around the world?

I started thinking about what I can do locally. I can volunteer at The Charleston Area Food Pantry or see if the Coles County Animal Shelter needs help walking the dogs or cleaning the kennels. I can donate money to a team participating in the Polar Plunge to help Special Olympics Illinois.

On Monday, I will be taking part in MLK Service Day through the Student Community Service office. This will be my first step toward helping out the local community. While decorating cards for the Birthday Card Blitz might now sound like it is changing much, I know that my efforts will make someone happier.

On a national level, I want to donate more than my time. I want to support the American Red Cross through blood donation. Every pint of blood a person donates can save up to three people’s lives. On average, the blood donation process takes 30 minutes from filling out the paperwork to eating the cookies so you don’t pass out.

Another national organization I want to donate to is the Wounded Warrior Project®. Everyone has probably seen the commercial of the men and women who come back wounded from wars and need help, whether it is mentally or physically. The WWP has the option to donate $19 a month to join the Advance Guard program or donate a one-time sum of as much money as you want. Our military men and women deserve any help we can give them.

On a global level, I want to raise awareness for and donate to the A 21 Campaign, an organization that works to fight human trafficking around the world. The organization’s website encourages people to write letters to victims, spread the word about their work or donate money.

Through all of this, I hope to better people’s lives and hopefully, in the process, make mine better as well.

I vow to you, Verge reader, that I, Cayla Maurer, will donate my time, money and blood to said organizations. I promise.