Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day can be more than just the barrage of pink carnations, candy hearts and Hallmark cards. You can become a channel of love for those who need it the most. So this Valentine’s Day, give of yourself and your time to people you know and complete strangers. From volunteering to buying a gift that universally gives back, here are nine charitable ways to show love this Valentine’s Day.
- Valentine Run. Charity marathons raise money to help others and promote healthy living. Get your heart pumping with the 9th Annual Valentine Run in Los Angeles, Valentines Hearts ‘r’ Running 5k in St. Paul or Brevard’s Valentine’s Charity Walk in Titusville, Fla.
- Fair Trade Valentine. Buy fair trade gifts from companies that ensure farmers not only get a fair deal for their crop but share in its profits, too. Try Divine Chocolate, Two Hands Workshop, Sjaaks Organic Chocolates, Cafe Gratitude for gifts that give back. Global Exchange’s National Valentine Day of Action is continuing the fight for fair practices with a campaign for teachers to educate students about fair trade on a single day.
- Love Letters. What does peace mean to you? Through reflective poetry, the Valentine Peace Project encourages a creative written dialogue on peace and will be shared with people all over the world. This global effort hopes to continue the conversation of love and peace.
- Small Acts of Kindness. This February, participate in the annual Random Acts of Kindness Week (13-19). Buy coffee or lunch for a stranger or friend, babysit your neighbor’s children, or mow a single mother’s lawn. Visit actsofkindness.org for more ideas.
- Be My Volunteer. VolunteerMatch lists a host of volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Support a Cause. Denver-based Project Valentine works to make Valentine’s Day a little sweeter for individuals going through cancer treatment. Also, With This Ring takes donations of rings to help create clean water in Africa. One ring can potentially bring clean water to an entire African village for years to come.
- Animal Love. The Humane Society of the United States makes it easy to show love to furry pets. Donate your old fur or fur items to its Coats for Cubs program, which will provide warm bedding for orphaned or injured wildlife. Also, you can make a monetary donation to its Hip, Hip Humane! program. You’ll receive a personalized greeting card for the object of your affection.
- Help the Needy. Deliver cookies or thoughtful Valentine’s Day cards to the homeless and elderly. Contact your local homeless shelters and retirement homes and ask how you can help.
- Remember Service People. Don’t forget the people who make your life a little easier. The barista who brews your cappuccino complete with a rich foam texture, the mail carrier, even the office cleaning crew would appreciate a thank-you card.
In all your service to others, don’t forget to give your sweetheart a heart-felt handmade valentine. Need some help? Check out these beautiful retro Valentine card designs that are not only free to download, but come with a matching envelope template.