When I moved to Liverpool 3 years ago, things definitely changed a lot. I was far away from my friends, my family, my home. It was strange and scary, but above all it was just… different.
All major UK towns have a huge homelessness issue, and the number of rough sleepers I found myself passing by every day was heart-breaking. But when you’re a skint student, it’s not easy to be generous all the time. I love the saying ‘be the change you want to be in the world’ but how can you be that change when your lifestyle doesn’t allow for it?
It’s true: money really doesn’t make the world go round. Not being able to offer a homeless guy on the street your spare change because you don’t have any, or not being able to donate to that new GoFundMe doesn’t make you a bad person. There’s actually an abundance of ways you can be generous offering only your time, and to more people than just the homeless.
“But… How?” You ask. Well, let me explain.
Pack a Shoebox
You might remember packing shoeboxes full of mini goodies in primary school and sending them to children across the Third World. Well, that operation still exists, and it’s more effective now than ever before.
I was so amazed to find out that the Samaritans Purse organisation still exists and operates. Now, I’ll add an extra bar of soap or perhaps a colouring book to my B&M shop every now and again. You don’t even notice the added cost at the time, and by November, you’ll find that you have a box full of gifts to send to a child who’ll receive it with all the thanks in the world. I usually start mid-spring and have a full box by September. It’s so easy and so rewarding. Oh, and now you can even add a barcode to your box so you can track the exact country it ends up in, and when the gift is received.
Volunteer Your Time
There are many ways you can volunteer your time as a student to help others. One great little team travels around Liverpool in the evenings handing out snacks and drinks to rough sleepers. Alternatively, helping out at a charity store or even just spending some time raising awareness for a cause are great ways to be kind. Let’s face it, we all reckon we have no time as students. But how many hours do you invest in Netflix (I watched the entirety of Friends and Game Of Thrones three times at university, and I’m not proud of it…)? Why not spend a couple of those helping out those in need?
Another cause that’s very close to my heart is blood donation. If you’re passionate about being generous and helping others (and aren’t too fussed about needles) then blood donation is a perfect way to help. It costs absolutely nothing at all! It’s virtually painless, over in minutes and might just save a life. Oh, and not to mention – after your donation, you’re welcome to a wide range of snacks and hot and cold drinks. So, if you’re waiting for your student loan to drop, and the cupboards are wearing a little (or entirely) thin, then you can fill your boots at the same time too. Find out more here.
Make Better Use of Your Freebies
If you’re a student with not much to spare, you need not feel guilty anymore with this little hack that I learned early on in my university days. As a student, you get free things and discounts left, right and centre. McDonalds currently give out a free cheeseburger or Mayo Chicken to every student that orders a meal, so if you’re not feeling particularly peckish, why not pass your extra item on to somebody who’s sleeping rough? Spare change isn’t the only way you can support homeless people and show them you care. Often, they’re super appreciative of food along with other necessities, and when it comes at no extra cost to you, it’s a win-win situation!
It’s incredibly cliché, but it’s also incredibly true. It costs absolutely nothing to be kind, and a lot of homeless people I’ve spoken with in the past say it’s nice to be acknowledged at the very least, and that it makes their day.
This point extends far further afield, too. If you want to show a little more compassion at uni, become that person. Check up on your friends and your flatmates, ask them if they’d like to go for a walk if things are getting a little tough, be kind to people for no reason, and always be positive. As the great Roald Dahl once said…
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
So there you have it. 5 ways to be a little more generous (and a lot more delightful) as a student. Remember, nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.