Make a Difference Day, October 24, is a national day designated to helping others. Ultimately, it’s about kindness, generosity, and altruism, and there’s no reason why we can’t all extend goodwill to animals as well as humans. It’s easy to make a difference for animals. You might start by choosing cruelty-free cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaning products, attending only non-animal circuses, or contacting cruel companies that use animals in their advertisements. Or, if you’re looking for new ways to help animals, the following 10 ideas should get you started:
1. Join the ABC Brigade: PETA’s ABC (Animal Birth Control) volunteers take a hands-on approach in their communities, helping to educate their neighbors about spaying and neutering and proper animal care, transporting animals to the vet for spaying and neutering, walking “backyard” dogs, watching out for neglect and cruelty, and much more. To learn more about becoming an ABC volunteer, see HelpingAnimals.com or e-mail AnimalBirthControl@peta.org.
2. Use Your Mouse to Help Animals: GoodSearch is a great search engine. You can designate a charity, such as Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, PETA, or The Elephant Sanctuary, to receive money for each search you make. And, if you make a purchase through GoodShop, a percentage of the purchase price will go to your favorite charity.
3. Give Straight to the Source: If you can afford to make a seperate contribution, consider sponsoring a rescued elephant at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, or donating to another worthwhile program to help animals.
4. Don’t Let Animals Pay the Price: People who respond to “free to a good home” ads often have no intention of giving animals a good home–many are dealers collecting animals for experiments. Peruse your local paper for “free to a good home” ads and call the people who place them, warning them that their animal might end up in a lab. Contact newspapers as well, to discourage them from placing such ads. Also urge Craiglist not to run ads for free animals.
5. Kickstart A Good Habit: If you haven’t already gone vegan, Make A Difference Day is a great time to start. It’s estimated that each vegan saves more than 100 animals every year—now that’s making a difference! Choosing free range or organic meat doesn’t have nearly the same impact, nor does giving up meat, but still eating eggs and dairy. Sign up for PCRM’s Vegan Kickstart to save animals—and yourself.
6. Give Vegan Food to the Needy: If you’ve already gone vegan, help convince others to do the same by organizing a Feed In. Or, if you want to share vegan food with the less fortunate, look for a Food Not Bombs chapter in your area. You can also help others by contributing to The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting edible, fruitful trees and plants to benefit the environment and all its inhabitants.
7. Help Stop Suffering, Not Cause It: You can also make a difference for both animals and people by contributing to health charities that spend their time and money on relevant programs that can really help save lives—not irrelevant animal experiments.
8. Make it a Banner Day: Put a PETA Banner on your Web pages, e-mail, and blogs. Choose from dozens of messages, including “He Wouldn’t Leave You…Please Don’t Leave Him. Click Here for a Free Disaster Preparedness Checklist,” “Stop School Violence. Do Your Homework—Choose Not to Dissect,” or “Stop the Canadian Seal Slaughter.”
9. Be a Television Star: If you’ve always wanted to be on television and use your “celebrity” for good, consider putting on a cable access show, such as Animal Rights NOW!, an Atlanta show which featured graphic footage from inside animal research laboratories and factory farms, coverage of animal rights protests, interviews with various individuals, such as PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk, and more. According to a volunteer producer of Animal Rights NOW!, “Cable access exists for us, the people. It’s an amazing untapped resource, just waiting for people to find it and take advantage.”
10. Care2 Make a Difference: If you’re more of a “behind-the-scenes type,” you can help animals simply by signing as many Care2 petitions as you can—or creating one of your own. Wish your friends and family a happy Make a Difference Day—and urge them to get active for animals—with a Care2 e-card.
For more motivation, read Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book One Can Make a Difference, which includes more than 50 thought-provoking essays by inspirational individuals like Brigitte Bardot, His Holiness The Dali Lami, animal-friendly designer Stella McCartney, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine founder Dr. Neal Barnard, and Doris Richards, the California woman who fought to open the first dog park in America.
If you’re doing something to make a difference–on October 24 and every other day of the year–I’d love to know about it!