It's easy to fall into a culture of consumerism, particularly in Miami. After all, we're a city that screams excess, from cars to coke to Kardashians.
But that's not all there is to the 305. There are lots of organizations working to make our city a better place, and they could all use our help.
Enter Philanthrofest, an annual outdoor festival designed to raise awareness of South Florida's top charity groups. There'll be food, music, art, and lots of good karma. In honor of the April 6 event and its many philanthropic participants, here are 10 easy ways to give back to the city that's so good to you.
10. Donate your old bike to the Magic City Bicycle Collective.
Despite your good intentions to join Critical Mass each month, you haven't ridden on two wheels in years. Your once-beloved bike is rusting, her tires are getting flat, and the seat is aching for a little action. Time to donate her to our city's non-profit bike repair center. She'll get a new lease on life, and someone else will score a sweet ride.
9. Serve food to the homeless at Chapman Partnership.
No matter how bad your life may suck sometimes, you've got a roof over your head, which is more than many Miamians can say. So why not give a few hours of your time to those who aren't so lucky? The Chapman Partnership serves up over 800,000 hot meals to the homeless. So don some latex gloves and a hairnet and help out.
8. Pick up beach junk with the Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches.
People are pigs. They party on the sand, taking advantage of our gorgeous beaches, perfect weather and calm waters -- then they leave their crap behind. So why not lend a hand at keeping our best resource beautiful? You can get in on a community clean-up event, and maybe meet some hot, environmentally-aware singles while you're at it.
7. Volunteer at an event with the Boys and Girls Club of Miami.
Even if your only experience with kids was being one, you can still help the Boys and Girls Club, an organization that helps young'uns with character development, life skills and lots of other important stuff. Volunteer to help at May's Claws for Kids event at Joe's Stone Crab, or join in on one of lots of other opportunities. No babysitting required.
6. School people on Miami's fascinating past with HistoryMiami.
Don't worry, you don't need a PhD in blasts from the past to get on board. The group preserves our city's roots through exhibitions, city tours, education, research, collections and publications -- and there are tons of ways to help, from volunteering at events to getting your education on.
5. Help the affordable housing cause with Habitat Young Professionals.
It ain't cheap making ends meet in Miami, particularly when it comes to housing, so every little bit helps those in need. If you're between the ages of 21 and 45 you can get in on social networking, community outreach, event fundraising and other good stuff in support of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami.
4. Re-gift your old suits to Dress for Success Miami.
It's no secret that clothes make the man (or in this case, woman). That's particularly true in a fashion-forward city like Miami. But not everyone can afford to be outfitted via Louis Vuitton. So to help women less fortunate, give your gently-worn professional duds to Dress for Success, where they can help a fellow female score a new gig.
3. Give your time to Legal Services of Greater Miami.
Lawyers are expensive, yo. And those in the most need of legal help are often those who can't afford it. So if you're a lawyer, law student, paralegal or have other handy skills (think internet research), you can join the good fight for justice.
2. Empty your cupboards for Curley's House of Style Food Bank.
If you were prepping for the end of the world last December, you've probably got canned goods up the wazoo. You know you're never gonna eat a year's supply of tuna or 86 cans of chili. So why not give them to a good cause? Curley's House helps feed low-to-moderate income individuals and families, the elderly, the homebound, the abused, HIV/AIDS infected, youth, and youth-at-risk.
1. Give a little of your AB+ to OneBlood.
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No one likes needles, but despite your phobia of all things sharp, it's worth enduring that little prick to save a life. A half hour of your time, and you've earned your good karma points for the month. It's practically painless, we promise.
Philanthrofest 2013 kicks off on Saturday, April 6, from noon to 6:30 p.m. at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Avenue. You can register online at www.philanthrofest.eventbrite.com. The event is free and open to anyone.