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Be Useful & Youthful

One the most effective ways of gaining reward and happiness is to bring happiness to others. Islam teaches us to be well-wishers of others. Be merciful to those on earth and those in the heavens will be merciful to you. The hadith teaches us the creation is the family of Allah. Nabi(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)has said “The creation is the family of Allah. The best of the creation to Allah are those who do good to His family.”  (Baihaqi)

A Muslim should develop the ability to give, forgive, help, guide and empower others. Here are some guidelines with which you could serve humanity.

Help at a food or soup kitchen in your town - You would probably have several organizations who provide meals or groceries to those in need. Volunteer to serve food or clear tables. Be sure to smile and talk with the people. They all have the same desires and needs that you have. You can also start your own soup kitchen in your school and community.

Do you like to read? Develop your own ability to read by volunteering at a school, library or Masjid to read the stories of the Sahaba to children. Read a good Islamic book with anecdotes or virtues etc. after Salah or at home to your family. You will be surprised at the change this will create in your community.

Provide some cheer to sick kids - Do you have a hospital, a dialysis centre or a paediatric ward nearby? Often these places are a little drab and could do with some cheering up! Contact the hospital and tell them you'd like to help 'cheer up' their rooms. You can provide cheerful, colourful artwork and little care packages.

Are you a techno wiz? Start blog for Muslim teens. Offer Islamic information and career support for teens. Have a list of community services you can offer as referrals to things teens look out for. Put up helpful and upbeat articles of interest to other teens. Provide quizzes and puzzles. Make it a place other teens will want to come to, on a regular basis for positive, encouraging and supportive information and resources. You can have useful contact numbers of organisations that have programs, workshop, grant bursaries and do other community work.

Offer free lessons in what you do well. Help others by empowering them with a skill that you have. You can offer free computer classes, teach cooking or baking, letter writing, CV preparation, sewing etc. There are a many people who would like to learn about certain basics but can't afford to. There may also be community upliftment organizations that require help with their website designing, data capturing etc.

Do you love the outdoors? Gather local youngsters and take them for a day adventure hike or give them a lesson on nature conservation, etc. Get young people to enjoy the great outdoors instead of being bogged indoors.

Have a blanket or warm clothing drive. Unfortunately there are many who don't have warm clothing for the winter. Put the word out to neighbours, friends, etc. for clean, re-usable clothing donations and then donate them to needy kids & families.

Find out if there is a 'special needs school' in your community. The school may require assistance with sports coaching or just keeping the kids busy. You may even adopt an under privileged school with your friends and help the kids with homework, recreation, coaching, etc.

Bring some joy to senior citizens at a frail care or hospice - Senior citizens may be active seniors or bed-ridden individuals. However, they all have the same need – to know that someone else cares. Why not get some friends together and host a programme for them? Form groups and have a good chat with them (don't worry about what to say – most of them will be happy to do the talking!).

Help low-income elders and disabled adults to have dignity in their homes - Volunteer to help - drive them to medical appointments, run errands and go shopping for them, help with the housework or yard work, assist them with moving or packing, read to them, write letters for them, make phone calls for them, etc.

Sponsor a toy drive for kids - You can either request for new or reusable baby or kids toys from the public. Donate them to your local homeless shelters, rehab centres, paediatric ward, etc.

Be an intern - If you are interested in working with non-profit organizations (NPOs), non-governmental organizations (NGO's) or public benefit organizations (PBO's), consider serving as an intern (volunteer) during your weekends and vacations. These organizations help local, national and global communities. The purpose of the NPO is not to make money (they are not-for-profit), but to help their communities. They usually support themselves with donations from people, businesses, etc. You can work through your school counsellor, an Aalim or trusted adult in finding an organization that really gets you excited about what they're doing.

Letter writing is a powerful form of communication! The news is filled with tragedies and depressing stories of global upheaval. You can bring a positive and fresh perspective by writing letters to the editor. Your letter could be the breath of fresh air readers are waiting for. You may also consider writing about a business that needs to reconsider its policy? Or are they doing an excellent job and you want to commend them! Either way, let them know. Offer positive solutions if you're pointing out a problem.

Was there an offensive or a biased article in the newspapers? Send letters to the Editor. Your opinions are as important and valid as an adult's. Offer possible solutions to the problem, be specific. Help people see what you are seeing. Don't complain or be offensive. State the facts, give your opinion, and then offer solutions.

Sponsor a book drive. Have you visited your school or community library recently? Is there a well-stocked Islamic section? Why not have a new and used Islamic book drive and gather other books for these libraries and other organizations that can use them? 'Put the word out' by contacting neighbours, clubs, people in your local Masajid, etc. A group of people can assist you in collecting and sorting the books.

Are you creative? There are hundreds of underprivileged kids who don't have access to art classes or materials. Get some of your friends to offer after school creative craft classes at one of the poorer schools or community centres. Provide the materials and teach the kids what you know. At the end of the classes provide a craft show featuring your students' work. Open it to the neighbourhood and invite the media to attend. Make the world a better place through creativity – open the world of art and crafts to kids!

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