Man and woman holding huge stacks of cardboard boxes

There’s a particular type of giving and service I like to point out whenever I find it—I refer to it as “NO skin off mass” giving or NO SOMA impact. These are the actions that don’t interfere with your everyday routines, yet can, with minimal effort, make a difference in the lives of others.

There are, of course, outstanding opportunities around the world to really dedicate your all—energy, time, sweat, and tears—and I hope you’ll find plenty of those options here and elsewhere. But how about something you can do on any old Tuesday afternoon…or Thursday morning…or any time at all. Actions so simple yet still impactful…the only question that remains, is “Why not…?

GIVEBACK BOX is such a simple yet ingenious idea it boggles my mind why we haven’t all been doing it for years. Here’s the super-short version:

  1. You order from an online retailer (partners include most major online shops: Amazon, Overstock, LOFT, Levi’s/Dockers, Asics, New Egg, Ann Taylor, UncommonGoods, BonTon, Kenneth Cole, Hanes, REI Co-op, Jet.com, Nordstrom, David’s Bridal, Banana Republic, and so many more).
  2. Instead of throwing away the box or breaking it down for recycling (and PLEASE recycle packaging if you decide NOT to do the GIVEBACK BOX), you Fill the Box with items you want to donate from your home.
  3. Print out a prepaid label, and mail (via United States Postal Service or UPS…drop off or they will pick up from your home/office/etc) shipping to the charity you choose.

So simple. So good. No skin off my ass and yet impactful!

So…Why Not?

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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