Did you know that October 22 is Make a Difference Day? It’s one of our very favorite days of the year, and we just love hearing about all the worthwhile efforts our readers put forth to celebrate this special occasion!

Want to participate in Make a Difference Day, but not sure where to begin? We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you kickstart an impactful weekend full of difference-making.

1. Help your local animal shelter.

Animal shelters usually need volunteers for a variety of tasks — walking dogs, cleaning cages, socializing cats, and much more. Most also keep updated wish lists that include common items like towels, bedding, newspapers, dish soap, paper towels, and office supplies. Of course, requests vary from shelter to shelter, so be sure to check with your local organization to find out its most urgent needs. If you need help locating your nearest shelter, check out this handy resource from the Humane Society of the United States.

2. Clean up litter at a nearby park, bike trail, beach, or river.

Cleaning up discarded trash does so much more than make an area look inviting. It also saves animals’ lives. According to a HSUS report, items like plastic bags and six-pack rings, aluminum cans, bottle caps, cigarette butts, and balloons are common causes of injury or death. Depending on the size of the area you’d like to cover, you might do this activity alone, with a friend or family member, or a larger group. (When picking up trash, always wear gloves and beware of sharp or potentially dangerous items, and consult a maintenance supervisor or park ranger for guidance when applicable.)

3. Sign the HSUS Meatless Monday Pledge.

Many of our readers have already adopted a plant-based diet, which is terrific! (Fun fact: MUTTS creator Patrick McDonnell is vegan, too.) If you haven’t gone meat-free but are curious about doing so, consider signing the Humane Society of the United State’s Meatless Monday Pledge. If everyone in the United States went meat-free just one day a week, it would save over 1.4 billion animals from factory farming. Now, that’s what we call making a difference!

4. Start a vegetable garden.

Growing your own edible plants, be it a just couple of varieties or a hearty, diverse crop, can do wonders for your mood, health, and bank account! It’s also great for the environment, as it cuts down on “food miles,” which refer to the carbon emissions and pollutants associated with transporting consumer goods. If you have children, you can help them to develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for nature by including them in hands-on gardening activities.

For our readers living in mild climates, now is an excellent time to plant cool season crops such as broccoli, spinach, and carrots. For those in colder areas, you may consider starting an indoor herb garden. (Plus, research suggests that houseplants make you smarter and happier!)

5. Adopt or foster an animal.

Adopting or fostering is a completely life-saving deed, and there’s no love quite like the love of a rescue animal! Finding one is easy — simply contact your nearest shelter today or search online for your next best friend.

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