It’s hard not to buy for ourselves and others during the holidays – I understand that. And with Christmas around the corner, there will be an influx of stuff. It’s hard to decline gifts from friends and family but we just don’t need more when there are families out there who struggling to make ends meet. At the same time, my girls are asking for things – some they just don’t need. Some are big ticket items (what 7 year old needs an iPod??).
The last few years we have reduced the number of gifts they receive. I talked to them about giving back and donating to those in need. However, transferring cash electronically isn’t the easiest concept to grasp at their age so this year I knew our giving back needed to involve more active participation on their part. The organizations I chose to give back to this year are just that: ones that allow all of us to have an active part in giving back and has special meaning to us.
Here’s where we gave back this season:
One Girl Can Society. Y’all know how I feel about gender equality. And although it feels like we have come a long way in Canada, there is still a ways to go, especially in developing countries like Africa.
Lotte Davis [cofounder of AG Hair) believes every girl should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
AG Hair covers all of One Girl Can’s administration, marketing and travel expenses. This allows 100% of the donations to go into the projects in Africa. AG Hair was matching all donations on #GivingTuesday so I went ahead and donated! I received a pack of their holiday cards, with all proceeds going to rebuilding a dormitory.
BC Cancer Foundation. Having both parents affected by cancer, BC Cancer Research has a special place in my heart. Peninsula Coop had generously offered to match all donations on #GivingTuesday.
Stockings for Seniors – London Drugs. Donating money is helpful but for children, it may be difficult to grasp something that is intangible. I saw this Stockings for Seniors at London Drugs on my blogger friend, Tairalyn’s IG Stories one day and I instantly knew my girls would LOVE to participate. Every location has a tree with tags that contain a few items on someone’s wish list. Some of these items include: cookies, magazines, blanket. We found most items at London Drugs and popped into Walmart upstairs to pick up the rest. We brought it home, put everything in gift bags and the girls made personalized cards for each of the senior stockings. It was really fun to see them get excited about giving and putting so much effort into their cards. We brought it back to London Drugs the next day for them to distribute. Stocking Stuffers for Seniors partners with local care homes, charities, and organizations to bring more holiday cheer to seniors in their communities.
SHARE Society Caring Neighbours. We chose to sponsor a neighbourhood family this year for the first time. We have sponsored one through school or work previously but I thought it would be good for us to do as a family. I applied through SHARE. You indicate your budget on the form and they will match you accordingly. This year, we were matched up with a family of three in our area – a single mom with two girls, ages, 5 and 9. I spoke with the mom, got their likes and dislikes and then we shop! The girls have thoughtfully picked out some amazing gifts for them and we will be doing a grocery shop right before we deliver it to the family. We will also enclose a gift card for groceries. They also have many volunteer opportunities, including present wrapping, which I did for several years as a teenager. K would have loved this but the minimum age is 16 years old. I’ll definitely look into it again once she’s older.
Other opportunities to give back
It’s never too late to give back, especially this time of year. You don’t always need to give money. Your time and help is always appreciated.
- Buying and donating an unwrapped toy to Share Toy Bank
- Helping organize hampers and toy bank. I did this as a teen and LOVED it. It felt really good to help parents choose gifts for their children, who otherwise wouldn’t receive any.
- Donating good to Share Food Bank, Vancouver Food Bank, etc.
- Participating in events that give back to a local charity, like local markets.
- Choosing gifts that also give back to a local charity or organization. Eg. One Girl Can Holiday Cards
- Making and distributing sandwiches on the East Side (Vancouver)
- Buying extras on your next grocery shop and dropping it off in the food bank bin on your way out (my grocery store has one by the exit).
These experiences opened up a dialogue for us: discussing someone else’s likes, shopping for someone else, wrapping their gifts. It allowed us to talk about things that might not be so comfortable to talk about. It helped them remember that not everyone is lucky to have a job and home and that it is in us to help others. These discussions are difficult but ones I hope to have more of with my girls.
At what age did you discuss giving back and charity with your children?