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A Guide to the Good Life

by Ella Frapwell (she/her)

contributing writer

Emma Frapwell takes us through a few student-friendly ways you could volunteer your free time to do some good in the world.

Hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure, often comes with a bad reputation. When the philosopher Epicurus began teaching the value of this, it conjured images of sexy, bacchanalian nights spilling into days. But the reality of their philosophy was more Invercargill than Ibiza. The idea was simply that doing good things makes you feel good. It is pleasurable to help others, be part of a community and spend your efforts making things better. And they were very big on gardening…

As with many things the Greeks came up with, this idea has been proven correct. Many students report that volunteering has given them greater self-confidence and life satisfaction, along with a host of other psychological benefits. Of course, while the pull of improving one's mental health is strong, most students don’t have a tonne of spare cash and time floating around. Luckily, there are a whole heap of ways you can give back. Some of these I’ve listed below.


Got a car? A lot of older Kiwis need help getting around and would love to have someone sign up on a regular basis to do a bit of driving. If you can’t commit to something weekly or fortnightly, companies like Good Bitches Baking could use some help, where you’d be delivering cakes to refuges or other places in need in your area. If a monthly commitment is still too tricky, organisations like Franklin Family Support Services and other small, local, family-centric organisations often need cover for the school holidays.


On that note – if you can bake (or are able to follow instructions) then baking for Good Bitches Baking can be a delicious way to do good, whether you do it well, or simply with enthusiasm. Good Bitches is an organisation that provides fresh homemade goods to places like women’s refuges, hospices, homeless shelters and other places where it helps.

Got Blood?

Red blood cells only last 35 days. The NZ Blood Service is a crown entity responsible for managing the over 4,000 donations needed each week to ensure blood is available when it’s needed. You can check your eligibility online and from there, book in when it’s convenient. A nurse will assess you when you get there, and there is daytime TV, loads of lollies, biscuits, tea and juice to make sure you feel good. They also regularly gift you little things to say thank you – like chocolates, reusable coffee cups and shopping bags to help you show off just how brave you are! They will even notify you when your blood is used to save someone, and you get to find out your blood type.


Another incredibly important thing you can gift is your time. If you are able to, there are plenty of charities like the Heart Foundation, or Cancer Society on Daffodil Day looking for a couple of hours of coin collecting (standing around holding a bucket and giving out stickers with a friend). Alternatively, you can get involved with something like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, where you spend an hour a week with a young person who really needs a solid permanent presence in their life.


Ever wanted to run a marathon, half-marathon, 10k, 5k, or walk around the park? Why not get people to sponsor you? There are bonus mental health points for getting your body moving too. If you have plans to partake in any of the summer runs like the Auckland Marathon, it’s not too early to start fundraising!

Spend money to make money

One thing that many people don’t know is that charitable donations are tax-deductible. That means if you donate anything above $25 you will receive a tax receipt from the charity. At tax year end, you can submit that on the IRD website for 33% back in your tax return. So if you donate $100 to your favourite charity (World Vision, the Fred Hollows Foundation, I am Hope, etc.), they will issue you a tax receipt and the IRD, not the charity will refund you $33. You can keep that or you can donate it right back. That $33 will give you another tax receipt and that will get you back $10.


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