As fun as making wish lists and shopping can be, I always try to find ways to give back or pay it forward during the holidays. Isn’t that what the spirit of the season is all about 🙂 ?
Today I’ve rounded up 5 of my favourite ways to give back – some are as easy as the click of a button, but all are guaranteed to give you that mushy-do-gooder feeling inside, and more importantly, they will make someone else’s day too.
CAMH Gifts of Light
I’ve loved volunteering with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. It’s an institution which truly does good work, and provides a healthy and safe space for those suffering from mental health and addiction issues. They care about transforming lives in a positive way, and finding sustainable solutions for everyone who walks through their doors.
In their own words, “Gifts of Light are gifts that bring hope and joy to those seeking treatment at CAMH. For patients who arrive at CAMH during the darkest time in their lives, Gifts of Light are a reminder that they are not alone.”
Gifts include simple things like basic essentials (a backpack with toiletries for example, since many patients arrive with no belongings), or help on the road to recovery with art therapy classes or cooking classes. It’s easy to do! CAMH allows you to choose the gift you’d like to give, and then checkout and pay online as if you were online shopping. Click here for more.
Lolë Yellow Label Program
Lolë is a clothing company which sells beautiful, high-quality activewear. Their Yellow Label Program is all about promoting responsible consumption. As a certified shopaholic, this is a cause I can get behind.
Until November 30th, if you bring a gently used jacket into one of their drop-off depots, Lolë will clean it and resell it at a Yellow Label Pop-Up Shop. ALL proceeds from the sales will go to charitable food banks to benefit people in need. As an added bonus, you will receive a $50 coupon off the purchase of a new jacket from Lolë (which you could then turn around and give as a gift to a loved one)!
To find out more about the program, where the drop-off depots are, which charities they donate to, and more, click here.
Be a Santa to a Senior
I love my grandparents and cherish them, every day. Some senior citizens are not fortunate enough to live near their family members and loved ones, and can end up feeling lonely or neglected. This is why I love the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program SO much. Here’s how it works:
Certain retail stores that participate in this program will have Christmas trees at their locations. On the trees will be ornaments which contain “wishes” from senior citizens. By signing up, you can go pick an ornament off the tree, buy the specified gift, and bring it back to the participating location. Volunteers there will collect the gift, wrap it, and even deliver it on your behalf.
This program is run by Home Instead Senior Care, and they work to identify seniors at nursing homes who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. Sometimes these gifts are the only ones the seniors receive all year long.
If I may make a suggestion, I would say that if you’d like to participate in the program that you also include a card with a heartfelt message. The material gift is nice, but I think receiving a letter from someone who cares is a treasure.
To find the closest participating location to you, or to learn more about the program click here.
This one’s for all you shopaholics out there! Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show has partnered with J.Crew to bring you the Pocket Dial. This genius little accessory is basically an iPhone case with a clip-on pocket square sample. Now, when your man-friend keeps his phone in his blazer pocket, he can be stylish at the same time! There are lots of patterns available, so you can buy a few and change it up.
The best part? 100% of the proceeds go to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Kenya-based charity that protects Africa’s elephants from ivory poaching and extinction. Shop here.
I learned about crowdfunding while in university, and have been discovering cool projects ever since. Crowdfunding is essentially raising small amounts of money from large numbers of people to get a venture funded. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo make this more accessible than ever!
During the holidays, I like to find a project that is meaningful to me, and give what I can. Most project owners will also send you something in return. This season I chose cuddle+kind: knit dolls that help feed children.
cuttle+kind was started by a family in Mississauga, whose goal is to provide 1 millions meals a year to hungry children. Every adorable cuddle+kind doll provides 10 meals to children in need!
This project is now off the ground and running, and dolls can still be purchsed here. There are many more projects which still have not reached their goal – you can easily search them on Indiegogo under the “community” section.