This holiday season, don’t just give. Give back, too

By: Vin Heney on December 20, 2018

Giving — it’s one of our most celebrated holiday traditions.

The spirit of generosity is central to the holiday spirit (and rightfully so!), but if you’ve ever struggled to find a gift for someone who seemingly has everything, or couldn’t come up with a single thing to put on your wishlist (me … every … year), then maybe it’s time to rethink the tradition of giving.

Here are seven ways Canadians can turn giving into giving back this ho-ho-holiday season.

Fill a shoebox with hope

The idea behind the Shoebox Project is  simple: fill a shoebox with roughly $50 worth of goods, including something warm (e.g. socks), something sweet (e.g. chocolate), something personal (e.g. body wash), something fun (e.g. playing cards, journal), something practical (e.g. transit tickets, cough drops), something pretty (e.g. nail polish, accessory bag), and something special (e.g. gift card). Once the shoebox is full, you decorate it, write a personalized card, and bring it to a drop-off location. The shoebox is then gifted to a woman impacted by homelessness. It’s a fun family activity that will make somebody’s holiday season a little brighter.

Make a charity donation in someone else’s name is an easy-to-use platform that allows Canadians to donate to a number of charities. If you’re not sure what charity to donate to on behalf of your loved one(s), simply order them a personalized gift card and let them go online and pick for themselves. it doesn’t get more thoughtful than giving someone the ability to give.

Get the family involved

With Holiday Helpers, your family can help a less fortunate low-income family with young children by providing them with a one-time Christmas package. And if your clan is looking for a charitable experience, you can volunteer as holiday elves at the Mississauga warehouse, and lend a hand with things like unloading boxes and sorting items.

Support sustainability

If you’re looking for an alternative gift option that benefits both the buyer and the seller, look no further than Cambio & Co. We’ve written about these folks before, because we love their entrepreneurial aspirations. At Cambio & Co., you can be sure that what you’re giving is ethically-sourced and beautifully handcrafted from the Philippines. Check out their budget-friendly roundup of Gifts Under $50.

Give the cure for Christmas

Cancer has affected so many Canadians, so what better time than Christmas for Canadians to come together and keep working towards the cure. Through the Canadian Cancer Society’s Gifts for the Cure program, you can give the gift of supporting one area of research or treatment, ranging from raising funds for dog therapy to purchasing new microscopes. Oh, and the option to send personalized greeting cards means there’s still something to put under the tree.

Serve up some holiday spirit

Food is the great bringer-together-er. If you’ve got a few hours to spare this season, consider lending a hand at the North York Harvest Food Bank. As the largest food bank in northern Toronto, this charitable organization distributed more than 2.3 million pounds of food last year. This holiday season, it’s aiming to raise $1 million worth of food through its Winter Food Drive, and is currently looking for volunteer drivers to collect donations throughout the region.

Get your kids in on the giving

I’m all for spoiling the kiddos on Christmas morning, but adding even a single charitable element to the holiday tradition will go a long way in instilling values of community, mindfulness, and generosity. If your kids are old enough, try asking them what they’d like to help out with — it’s a great way to get them to buy in, and their ideas may surprise you! If they’re too young to suggest ideas, turn to a tried-and-true option like a local soup kitchen. As with most volunteer experiences, they’ll get more than they give.