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This Valentine’s Day, Spread the Love

Doing good and helping others is where it’s at

Nine year old Sara Ozawa shows off her just-cut hair at a Locks for Love hair cutting event in Denver, Colorado.
Nine year old Sara Ozawa shows off her just-cut hair at a Locks for Love hair cutting event in Denver, Colorado.,

by Janice Holly Booth

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This year, walk past the heart-shaped candy boxes and pre-arranged floral bouquets and imagine a more meaningful gesture. Spread your love beyond family and friends. There are thousands of non-profit organizations in North America that can help you do that. Make a date for you and your love to volunteer (or donate) together. Here, a sample of groups that bring a little love into the lives of people who really need it.

Feed the World Meals on Wheels delivers nutritionally sound meals, happy smiles, welcome conversation and a safety check to help keep 2.5 million seniors healthy, safe and living independently in their own homes. 

     See also: Why GIving Gives Us Purpose

Add a Little Heat Warm your heart by helping a less fortunate family heat their home by donating to your utility company’s “good neighbor” initiative.

Lend a Hand Crisis Assistance Ministries provide food, clothing and hope to people struggling with limited financial resources. Almost every community has one—check with your local United Way.

Celebrate Reading Imagine not ever being able to read or write a love letter. First Book provides a resource essential for overcoming illiteracy: access to an ongoing and diverse supply of high-quality books at no cost to children of low-income families.

      See also: Congressman John Lewis: Finding the Courage To Do Really Big Things

Cut Your Hair Locks of Love provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. The high-quality human hairpieces help restore a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Can there be a better reason for a new V-Day do than donate your shorn hair?

Set up a Kissing Booth Smile Train provides free cleft-palate surgeries to thousands of children in developing countries. You can run a fundraiser, or just spread the word by downloading (and personalizing) their Smile-Powered Deeds poster.

Salute a Vet Soldiers returning from combat often bring home a host of unique, severe and life-limiting conditions. Dogs For Vets provides companion, therapy and service dogs for veterans of all wars. 

Keep Your Light Burning If your love truly overflows, take advantage of Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 9-15, 2015. Visit the RAK organization’s website for a ton of ideas on how to integrate small kindness gestures into your routine at home, work and school, one day or every single day.

Photo credit:Glenn Asakawa/Denver Post/Getty