Almost everyone wants to leave a positive mark on this world, and volunteering is a simple and accessible way to do that. People of all ages can get involved, and there is a wide variety of causes and projects to choose from. But this can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. Because of that, it is essential to realise that small steps and a bit of creativity might be all you need to make an impact. This is what’s known as a “ripple effect”. Keeping this in mind is what drove me to start my own project, and this is the story.
Like many, I felt that the Covid pandemic was the perfect time to get involved with my community and give back to others. I wanted to do something that I felt was rewarding and filled a need. As the possibilities were endless, I narrowed them down by considering my interests, what I enjoyed, and what worked with my schedule.
Unfortunately, not everything that came up met those criteria, so I had to think of something on my own. It was then that I came up with the idea of organising quarterly meals for the staff at my compound and providing them with Christmas gifts. I wanted to also get other residents involved.
Putting It Together
Now that I had my idea, I needed to act fast. I started looking up restaurants to supply the meals and looking for gifts that would be useful. I decided on meals and gifts that I believed would be the best value for money. Then, I created a post on our community Facebook group to gauge if there would be enough participants to help fund the purchases regularly. Fortunately, this was a success, so I started a dedicated Facebook page for the fundraiser where people could also share their ideas for future projects.
From Paper to Reality
Once I had the backing of enough residents, it was time to get the plan in motion. I contacted our compound’s management to organise the meal and gift distribution. They were more than happy to assist us and, like us, appreciative of the efforts of the staff. We picked a date for our first ever meal and gift giveaway and started collecting funds to purchase the items.
Participants swung by my villa and breezily dropped off donations of QR 100 per household—the amount we decided on to meet our goals. The amount raised allowed me to arrange with a local restaurant to supply lamb biryani for the entire staff. There was also enough to purchase 75 insulated one-litre water bottles to substitute their old plastic ones.
The Big Day
Finally, the day when I would see the results of all the effort we made in the last three months had arrived. We coordinated a schedule between the compound and restaurant and had the gifts ready for distribution. Of course, like any good plan, it didn’t go entirely as planned. The food came slightly late but was hot and delicious, nonetheless. Thankfully, the staff enjoyed their meals, drinks, and desserts. We also received many photos from the compound manager showing their appreciation for the event. It was great to see so many happy faces in those pictures and to know that volunteering for just a few hours could benefit so many.
Fortunately, we have continued this tradition and have been distributing meals every three months to around 80 staff members. I continue to advertise on the main community group whenever we have a fundraiser. There are always new families moving in that want to contribute. Through the fundraiser page, we organised around 400 meals in 2021. We have also been able to provide the staff with insulated lunch bags and iceboxes to help keep their food cool in the summer months. They still enjoy these meals and know that people in the compound appreciate their efforts. I think the biggest return for me is seeing how this small gesture fostered a greater feeling of community between the residents and the staff that we interact with daily. I’m always proud when I see the items we purchased still in use today.
If you feel inspired to do something similar, you can. You just need to get organised and put together a list of what you want to accomplish. Before you know it, you will be checking items off your list and meeting your goals. Whatever you do, small or large, the feelings of accomplishment and fulfilment will be the same.