Five Ways You Can Help the Unemployed

Last month AOL Jobs ran the personal story of Mollee D. Harper, a young woman struggling with unemployment. Last week we ran another story about an unemployed single mother, Lecher Eady from Marietta, Ga. During one year, Eady, who has triplets in diapers, had been laid off three times and hasn't worked since last August.

Since then, hundreds of readers have e-mailed AOL Jobs asking how they can help. In the spirit of giving, I have compiled a list of ways for you to give back this season (or any season) and help those hit hardest by the economy.

1. Make a donation.

Some of you wanted to ship diapers to Eady. It might be more cost efficient to contact a similar cause in your own community. For example, in North Haven, Conn., is The Diaper Bank, which serves 4,000 people in the area. The same goes for food and cash.

You can also donate clothing the jobless can wear to interviews. For women, try Dress for Success; for men, Career Gear.

No donation is too small or too out of the box. Tell mothers you will babysit when they apply for jobs.

2. Teach online communications.

Job search has moved to the Web, which changes the way we apply and communicate. For example, digitalspeak is quite a bit different from what analogspeak had been. You can ask your local public library if job hunters using the Internet there could use coaching. Other places to pitch your help range from the Salvation Army to Catholic Charities.

3. Encourage starting a business and shop there.

Most of the unemployed will have to create their own job, which is a small enterprise. Teach the jobless what's needed to operate a service that, for example, runs errands for the busy and disabled. Other possibilities are house cleaning, dog walking, and hauling. Use those start-ups yourself.

4. Listen.

Talking is a standard release for anxiety as well as a way to sort out options. Open yourself to just being an attentive audience. People have many of the answers inside them. When they sense you're really paying attention to what they're saying, they will pay more attention to it too.

5. Ask what you can do.

Ask often enough and the unemployed will realize you mean it. They will tell you what they need to get from where they are to back working.

Next:18 Holiday Gift Ideas for Job Seekers

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