Summer may be full of vacations and long naps on the beach, but the longer days also push many of us to work more and harder. We dive into passion projects, perhaps making improvements on the house or reading long-forgotten books.

Giving back to the community is important to me, and I like to use the extra energy to contribute to charitable causes through my time and money. If you’re in a similar boat, consider investing your energy into some of the following projects.

1. Support local farming.

I always stock my fridge with delicious summer fruits and vegetables, such as berries, cucumbers, and watermelon. If you’re like me, try to only buy in-season produce. They’re cheaper, fresher, and more likely to come from sustainable, local farms. You can buy in-season produce at the farmer’s market, using your money to support local businesses working to improve the environment.

You can also invest your time in local produce by volunteering at a local community garden. Not only do community gardens beautify neighborhoods, they improve air quality and provide fresh produce to those in need.

2. Invest in local kids

With kids off for the summer, many parents struggle to afford child care and summer learning programs. Children of low-income families, who don’t have access to expensive camps and tutoring programs, are more likely to fall behind academically during the summer. You can use your time and money to give to programs that offer summer childcare to in-need kids. Kidz2Leaders offers summer camps for kids coping with the trauma of familial incarceration. They are seeking volunteers for their summer camp, as well as other programs they offer throughout the year. Children’s Restoration Network supports homeless mothers and kids and are currently looking for volunteers to help collect school supplies for kids they serve. You could also volunteer with Caminar Latino, which supports Latino families recovering from violence, or local religious charities that offer free tutoring services for in-need kids. Volunteering with your own kids could also be an important lesson in empathy and charity.

3. Ethically invest in real estate. 

You may be considering buying a new house this summer or improving your real estate portfolio. When doing so, make sure you are investing in a way that empowers local residents. It can be tempting to buy cheap real estate in neighborhoods impacted by natural disaster, poverty, or other problems. However, doing so may take important resources and affordable housing away from those who need it most.

Instead, make sure you’re investing in communities that are improving lives for native and long-time residents. Check with long-time home owners and renters to hear their opinions of the community. Are their needs and wants considered or is the neighborhood on the “up and up” because outsiders brought in their own ideas and out priced natives? Do long-time residents still feel welcome in the community? Can they still afford to live there?

 

4. Read, read, read!

Want to give back to your community and country but don’t know how? Use the extra daylight hours to read up on local and national issues. Learning more about the needs of others could help you figure out how you want to invest your time and money.

You could consider reading about violence against women, the separation of immigrant children from their parents, LGBTQ history in honor of Pride Month, or any other topics that are interesting to you.

We hope you have a fulfilling summer, and if you would like to tell others about some important causes, let us know in the comments below!