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It’s that time of the year, when people love giving gifts to friends, families and their communities far more than to themselves. But this holiday season, people are more conscious of what matters when it comes to giving back.
The pandemic has emptied the pockets of many due to job losses and shutdowns, and many people have shortened their holiday and Boxing Day shopping lists. Some have had to remove financial donations from their lists.
And so the 8th annual Giving Tuesday is empowering people to end 2020 on a good note by giving back to their favourite causes without breaking the bank.
Here are seven ways to give back to your community on Giving Tuesday:
Since time is money, another way to give back is by taking a few hours of your day and volunteering for a cause that can really make a difference. Organizations like Volunteer Canada are allowing people to increase participation this year with both field work and volunteer-from-home opportunities. Some of this work includes: paving wheelchair access by creating ramps for the disabled, grocery shopping for the elderly, being a hand-hygiene co-ordinator at health centres, and even gigs like volunteering as a podcast writer.
By contributing to these activities, not only do Canadians help build their communities in unprecedented times but also prevent the spread of Covid-19 by allowing high-risk individuals to stay home as volunteers pick-up and drop off their groceries. Volunteering is a great pastime for those suffering from lockdown anxiety — as long as social distancing and proper hygiene methods are applied!
- Put your “pandemic-chef” hat on
Canadian-Middle Eastern restaurant chain, Paramount Fine Foods has partnered up with CRC | Regent Park Community Food Centre to distribute hot meals to families who are struggling to put food on their tables this year. With many breadwinners out of work and unable to provide proper meals for their families, Canadians have an opportunity to sign up to be a cook, delivery driver, or even a dishwasher at a local restaurant to help out families in dire need of proper nutrition.
Muhammad Fakih, CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, also partnered up with Chef Hero — a virtual platform delivering wholesale foods — to help cook and distribute over 500 meals to individuals and families in Regent Park.
Whether the pandemic has turned you into a great baker or a prestigious chef, it’s easy to give back by cooking a warm meal or holiday cookies for your neighbours and community from the comfort of your own home. Those still learning to boil an egg can always donate canned goods like tuna, peanut butter, oats and pasta to the food bank. For super busy people, there is always the option to drop off food at your local community fridge.
- Adopt a pet and keep a best friend
Every year thousands of cats, dogs and other pets go missing or become homeless. According to Humane Canada, Canadian shelters received approximately 81,000 cats and 30,000 in 2018. This year, cats and dogs are more vulnerable than ever before as thousands of people move homes, or downsize due to costs related to the pandemic.
Celebrate Giving Tuesday this year by adopting a pet. It’s a win-win situation — adopting a pet creates a home for your new best friend and gives you a much-needed mental health support system to help cope with the pandemic blues. Whether you’re a dog person or want a cat to help you go viral on Instagram, there are hundreds of pets available in shelters looking for a home. For those struggling with affordability, there’s always a need for volunteers, pet supplies, and treats at your local humane society.
- Give back to the businesses
Canadian small businesses take pride in giving back to their communities, especially during the holiday season. Whether these businesses are restaurants, home decor stores, or e-commerce boutiques on Etsy, many of these businesses have lost revenues and are struggling to survive due to pandemic restrictions.
In fact, Statistics Canada reported that nearly one third of Canadian businesses have lost 40 per cent of their revenues due to the pandemic. Canadians can give back by purchasing goods at their local family-owned or community owned vendors and grocers. Not only does buying local goods help families out, but it also boosts the overall economy.
Masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and other essential items can be donated to your local senior citizen homes, day care centres, schools, or even hospitals. Even one box of masks goes a long way for teachers, volunteers, and healthcare providers.
- Support and celebrate our heroes
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the thousands of doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health care staff that put their lives on the line to fight the pandemic. Every time you step out to buy groceries, thank the cashiers and other front line workers helping people pick out food or even board games to help the masses keep their sanity.
As Canadians, we’re notorious for saying “Sorry.” This Giving Tuesday, let’s turn the “Sorrys” into “Thank Yous,” “You’re appreciated,” and simply offer them a smile. As the famous advocate for giving-back, Mother Teresa, said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
- Help fight homelessness and protect the vulnerable
Winter is here and that means hundreds of homeless folks will be battling the unforgiving Canandian cold weather, along with being exposed to disease and viruses. According to Eva’s intitatives, a youth-focused shelter, there are approximately 2,000 homeless youth in Toronto between the ages of 13 to 24 every night.
One way to give back on Giving Tuesday is by donating winter jackets, wool socks, shoes, sweaters, scarves and any other unused clothes collecting dust in your closet to your local shelters.
Earlier this year, an Ending Violence Association of Canada survey found there has been an increase in prevalence and severity of violence in households due to the pandemic.
According to the report, one staff member said that, “The most challenging shift in my role is having to turn away women and children who have finally mustered the courage to flee. To not being able to let women in the door to limit the spread of Covid-19.”
It’s more important than ever before to help the marginalized and vulnerable groups through donations, volunteer work, or fundraising.
- Hoarding is boring; sharing is caring
When the pandemic first hit, there was a huge under-supply of essential products like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, food staples, cleaning supplies and even masks. Now that we’ve adjusted to the “new normal,” it’s time to give some of those supplies back to the community.