Add something meaningful to your summer to-do list

Sunsets and sleeping in. Going to the beach, having a picnic, reading a good book, traveling to a dream destination, hosting a backyard barbecue for family and friends. Our summer to-do lists just keeps going on and on. Aside from enjoying your share of summer fun, there are also meaningful things you can add to your summer to-do list. You’ll be surprised at how each of the following ideas can enrich your life and the lives of others during and even beyond summertime:

Let no child go hungry during summer break

Some families rely on free or reduced-cost school lunch programs during the school year so their children can have access to nutritious meals. When school is not in session, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program sites in California and throughout the United States provide kids and teens 18 and younger in low-income areas free nutritious meals so no child goes hungry during the summer break. When you help raise awareness about program sites in your community, you are helping children gain continued access to healthy meals during their summer break. Find out which sites in your area are involved in the program by viewing the  USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder or the California Department of Education’s 2017 Summer Meal Service Sites. Visit USDA’s  Raise Awareness website page for ideas on how you can help bring attention to the importance of summer meals for children in need.

Give kids in need a chance to succeed

Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack® Campaign helps provide children who are homeless or living in poverty the basic supplies they’ll need when they go back to school. You can help by donating a backpack filled with school supplies, start a collection drive with family, friends or co-workers, or volunteer your time at participating Volunteers of America affiliates. Visit the Volunteers of America Operation Backpack® site to learn more about the campaign, how you can help or donate, and to find out which Volunteers of America affiliates in the United States are offering Operation Backpack® campaigns through the end of July.

Ensure comfort and safety for the elderly

Adults aged 65 and older are more likely to suffer from heat-related health problems. Remember to check on friends, family members or elderly neighbors (especially those living by themselves) during the hot summer months and make sure they stay cool and hydrated. For more information about heat and older adults, hot weather tips and warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website page.

Learn to save a life

Who knows? Maybe the life you save may be your own. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe, especially during the hot summer months when swimming and other water-related activities are popular. Check the American Red Cross website for water safety tips and their training and cost information for CPR, first aid, water safety classes and more.

Provide warmth before it gets cold

Clean out your closets during the summer to find gently used winter coats, jackets, and other cold weather clothing and accessories you no longer need and donate them to someone who can use some warmth this winter. Check your linen closet for some extra fleece blankets or linens as well. They’ll surely make a warm bed on a cold winter night. For donation guidelines and drop off times, contact your local donation centers, religious institutions, homeless shelters, or agencies serving women and children who are rebuilding their lives.

Let this be a summer to remember. Go ahead and have a summer party, roast marshmallows by the campfire, spend a day at the state fair, watch the latest summer movie blockbuster, or head to the pool. But let this also be a summer that’s meaningful, life-changing, and filled with purpose. Make a difference in your life and in the lives of others this summer.

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