It’s that time of year where giving back and supporting our communities is top of mind. I’m a big believer that we should find ways to keep the spirit of giving alive all year and not just when the need is at its highest. I also understand that it can be hard to choose a cause, find the time and frankly, the money to support the causes you feel strongly about.
I thought I would collect a few ways to give back that are easy, simple to execute and make a big impact. The best part about some of these ideas is they are often part of what you already do around this time of year (ie. gift giving) and can be a lot of fun if you get a group of people together.
Closet Clean Out
Which one of us couldn’t benefit from a good closet purge? Since we’ll be taking advantage holiday and year ends sales, it’s the perfect time to go through your closet and take out items you haven’t worn in a long time or don’t have use for anymore. You can even get together with a group of friends and see if there is an opportunity to swap. All leftover clothes can get donated to your charity of choice or dropped off in a clothing donation bin. When you drop off your donation, please ensure that clothing items are in good condition, laundered and folded. There is a lot of pressure on donation services and the last thing you want is to add more work to their plate.
This is one of my personal favourite ways to give back because it obviously involves eating out at your favourite restaurants. Mealshare partners with popular restaurants in the city and designates an item on the menu as a Mealshare item. Every time that item is ordered, $1.00 is donated from the restaurant to a partner charity to feed youth in need. The funds go directly to purchasing groceries and ingredients to prepare and provide healthy meals to youth who could otherwise not afford them. Their list of partner restaurants in the city is awesome, some of my personal favourites are on there. I mean, jut look at this eggs benny from Hawthorne – to die for. Click here for the full list of participating restaurants.
Pay It Forward
This can be a super simple way to give back in a non-traditional sense. It doesn’t necessarily involve a charity or a donation but simply an act of kindness to live out the spirit of the season. A few years ago I remember waiting in line at the Tim Horton’s drive through to pay for my coffee when the cashier told me that the person in front of me had already paid for it. I can’t even tell you how I felt the entire day. Not only was I just smiling ear from ear but I couldn’t wait to pay it forward and make someone else feel how I was feeling. A simple act of kindness can go a long way and you never know the impact that you can have on someone with such a simple gesture.
Round Up and Donate with Lyft
This year Lyft has partner with local charities and has made it SUPER easy to donate to causes you support. By activating the “Round Up and Donate” feature within the app, Lyft will round up every ride you take to the nearest dollar and 100% of the rounded up proceeds go to one of the partnered charities. For the month of December the exclusive partner is Sick Kids Hospital but as of January you will be ale to select your cause of choice. I’ve personally activated this myself, its so easy I barely even know that I’m donating!
Gifts with Purpose
This is one of my favourite ideas. Since you have to buy gifts for your friends and family, why not buy gifts that support a cause you care about? This way you can get your Christmas shopping done and give back. Here are just a handful of companies who are making gift giving purposeful this year:
Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer and supporting the fight against paediatric cancer. Fifty percent (50%) of the net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support the fight against paediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer. Prices for the hats range between $40-60 but they also have other items like mittens and sweaters.
World Wildlife Fund lets you symbolically adopt a species which will help conserve wildlife and our planet for future generations. I personally love this gift for all the little ones on your list. For $40, the adorable educational adoption kit includes:
- A high-quality wildlife plush
- A personalized adoption certificate (5” x 7”)
- A stunning species poster and information pamphlet about the work your gift will help support
- One of three reusable gift bags of your choice
The Shoebox Project is another fun way to give back with a group of friends and getting crafty at the same time. The Shoebox Project for Women, supported by Dream, collects and distributes gift-filled Shoeboxes to women impacted by homelessness in communities across Canada and the US. Each Shoebox is filled with items valued at $50 that can enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation for women in need. Often, women feel disconnected from society, forgotten and alone. Reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness faced by women living in shelters is one of the most important outcomes of The Shoebox Project.
Lush Charity Pot Moisturizer is a gorgeous self-preserving body lotion that does a lot of good—and not just for your skin! This rich and generous cream contains seven ingredients sourced from the Sustainable Lush Fund projects that support regenerative agriculture around the world. With every purchase of Charity Pot, 100% of the price (minus the taxes) is donated to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights. For $7.95 a pot, this could make the perfect stocking stuffer.
Me to We has such a huge catalogue of gifts that you could pretty much get all your Christmas shopping done here. All gifts are made by local artisans and shop owners in Kenya and Ecuador. Each gift gives education, water, health, food or opportunity to a family, a woman or a community. From coffee, to soap, jewellery, even bags and clothing, you can get something for everyone!
HBC Charity Bear – Every year HBC comes out with a new product with proceeds going to a charitable cause. This year they have the CUTEST bear appropriately named Hudson. At $25 a bear it’s a great price point and 100% of net proceeds from the sale of each Hudson Charity Bear will support HEADFIRST mental health programming. Through increasing awareness and education, and improving access to care, HEADFIRST is dedicated to making mental health a priority in every community.
I hope that these ideas have inspired you to think about all the ways that you can give back not only during the holidays but all year round. The spirit of Christmas is something that we can truly embody all year round. Remember, its the small acts of kindness and giving that often make the biggest impact.