5 Ways to give back this holiday season

One of the things that the team and I have always felt is important is finding ways to give back, and believe me, this is no easy feat, especially when you start to look at where to give. There really is a lot of need out there, but when we all do our small part, social change is possible, and impacts really can be made.

This holiday season, it was especially important to us to find ways to support members of our community (both two and four legged) to help make this holiday season a bit more joyful all around. As you know, we have always sponsored a family at Christmas and this year was no exception. We went to our local Food Bank and were given the wish-list of a family of six. We are almost done wrapping the necessities and gifts that we have purchased and collected for them. Some of you even reached out to me directly to give  items after hearing about some of their needs in my stories, and it touched my heart to experience your generosity and kindness. We of course wanted to take a moment to thank some of our partners from 2018 that helped make this Christmas for the family we sponsored, extra special!

BOGS donated new winter boots to every person in the family of 6!

CHAPTERS INDIGO donated new books and LEGO sets for the family!

NOIZE donated a new winter coat to the mother & oldest son!

LAZYONE.CA donated new matching pyjamas and other great items for the entire family!

The kids were SO proud to be little elves this year, we were so proud of them for helping!

Some of you also may have followed along in my stories when just the other morning, I came across a racoon who had appeared to have been hit by a car. He seemed scared, disoriented and in pain. I immediately pulled over and did all that I could to comfort him. A friend of mine also came out and brought some blankets and towels to keep him warm while I tried to find a way to get hopefully get him medical help. I just happened to get lucky, when a truck driver pulled over to assist, he let me know that there was a local animal sanctuary that could take care of him. When I contacted the sanctuary, they were there immediately to rescue him. Your messages of support for this helpless little animal were also very touching. 

So, with all of this outpouring of support and since it is the season of giving, we felt it was important to continue to share with you, all of the ways we can continue to give.

  1. Donate to your Local Foodbank

Your local Food banks are amazing resources for those in need in our local communities. They work tirelessly to support people and families in so many ways. It still brings tears to my eyes to know that there are people who still do not have access to the basics like healthy food and warm clothing. The Barrie Food Bank, with the help of their many amazing volunteers and sponsors, do so much to “provide temporary food relief (and beyond might I add) to individuals and families of our community who are in need, and to serve as a resource to guide them along the road to self-sufficiency” -Food Bank mission statement. You can donate canned goods, sponsor individuals, or families in need, volunteer your time, or even attend a Food Bank sponsored event. As an example of one of their amazing events; Food Banks Canada has been partnering with a national railway company to collect donations and bring holiday cheer to people across North America for the last 20 years. (CP Holiday Train). If you are interested in giving back – find your local food bank here (www.foodbankscanada.ca and www.feedingamerica.org)

2. Volunteer at an Animal Sanctuary

Had I not experienced it first hand, I may have never known that our local area housed so many animal sanctuaries to help abused, neglected, injured and unwanted animals. I have long been familiar with one in particular – Wishing Well Sanctuary, because of the volunteer work we do with one of my favourite raw juice and plant based food restaurants – RIPE. RIPE donates all of their residual juice pulp to help feed the farm animals housed at this sanctuary (talk about a great way to put ALL of your product to its full use while eliminating waste). We make sure that the animals get this yummy green goodness by bringing it to the animals at Wishing Well. But there are many other ways to help: http://www.wishingwellsanctuary.orgww

And, then there is the Bear Creek Sanctuary who came to mine and my little furry friends’ rescue the other day. I was so impressed with their prompt attention and the comfort that they provided to this animal in need. So… the team and I have tracked down their needs wish-list and are in the midst of gathering many of the items so that they can continue to provide care and support to the many animals that they have rescued and will continue to rescue. If you would like to give: http://www.bearcreeksanctuary.com/main.htm

3. Hunt around your house to give back to a Shelter

If giving financially isn’t your thing, or you don’t have a lot of time, there are other ways to give back that don’t cost a lot of money or time. Sometimes getting a little creative can make a big difference too. This year the team decided to gather up all of their unopened (and unexpired), beauty products, toiletries and unused or gently used makeup bags to put together what we now call “Bliss Bags” for women in need of a little pampering. We called our local Women’s shelter ahead of time to make sure that our donations would be accepted (sometimes due to health regulations, certain items cannot be donated), and they were thrilled with our idea. BUT it doesn’t have to just be beauty products, many shelters are in need of unused/gently used blankets, sweaters, jackets, mitts, hats etc. so dig around in your closets and cupboards for any items that could be useful during the colder winter months.

4. Fundraise for Children

And while you are digging around in those closets, why not pull out that barely worn evening gown, or blouse whose sales tag has been hanging on it for the last 6 months and put them up for sale? Our most beloved Canadian country singer Dean Brody’s words could not be more true: “One man’s (or woman’s haha) trash is another man’s gold”… Whether it be on social media, or in a local mom’s group I have sold many things, like clothing, toys, shoes and even furniture, and this year I decided that all of the proceeds from these sales would be donated to the Sick Kids Foundation. Guys, our children are our future, and nothing is harder than watching your child suffer from a common cold, let alone a serious illness. I have worked with Sick Kids for X years and can attest to how incredible this organization is at supporting children’s health.

5. Get your Children Involved

Ever since Ella was only one year old, we felt it was important to teach her about giving, especially during the holidays. So every year we bring the kids Christmas shopping, and while it’s fun to have them pick out what they want from Santa, what’s more important to us is that they pick out a special toy for a child who might not otherwise get one. We wrap it together and drop it off at our nearest toy drive or toy store. They have understood from early on that giving without expecting anything in return is the fundamental to helping them make this world a little bit better. Teaching our children about the importance of generosity and helping others is a way we give back, and we hope that they will eventually go out into the world and carry on the tradition of giving of their talents and themselves. Here is a link to an amazing toy drive lead by the Salvation Army: Toy Mountain

This is merely a short list of some of the ways you can give back this holiday season, or really any time of the year. We would love to hear the ways you give back, how your businesses give back or ways that we can help other amazing organizations in need of a little giving and a little holiday joy.

To finish off today’s blog post we wanted to share a FREE Santa Letter Printable we’ve created for you, something you can fill out with your kiddos this Christmas or next Christmas with that extra special section titled ‘Something to Give’. Here is where together, your kids can either write or draw what they would like to give someone else in the hopes of further teaching the spirit of giving. Wether it is a gently used toy for a child less fortunate, a new book on someones wish list or even some freshly baked cookies for someone in the neighbourhood that is going through a tough time – teaching them about selflessness and toughtfulness is what this is all about. This year the entire time printed this out for their littles and it was so fun to see how each of them filled them out differently with love, from little sentences or pictures to describe what they wanted to gift to others. Truly adorable and a proud moment for all of us parents, we hope you enjoy this printable as much as we did! Click here: {Santa Letter Printable} to print it if you haven’t already.