For the last four holiday seasons, I’ve published a pretty robust gift guide (or series of guides) filled to the brim with the latest toys and must-have goodies. And, don’t worry, that’s coming — soon, I promise.
But to kick off holiday gift guide mania, I’d like to start by highlighting some of my favourite charitable gifting programs here in Canada. Whether it’s helping sick children feel as “normal” as possible on Christmas day or giving a needy family in a third-world country the tools, agriculture and animals they need to sustain themselves, I really believe that this is the true spirit of giving.
I’d like to challenge each of you — either as an individual, with your family or as a workplace — to support at least one non-profit organization this year. It can be a $10 or $95 gift — that’s the range I’ve listed. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you look beyond your own backyard this holiday as thanks for your own blessings.
Easy ways to gift charitably:
- Buy teacher’s gifts from the likes of the charitable organizations included below
- Forego gifts between adult family members and pool your money to buy a group gift
- Ask your children to “withdraw” some money from their piggy banks and let them select a gift in their price range
- Gift on behalf of clients (who really needs another bottle of wine?)
- World Vision school feeding for 50 children, $75 (multiplies three times thanks to a matching program with the World Food Programme) — this stocks a classroom with nutritious lunches for an entire month
- World Vision water filters, $50 — we take clean water for granted, but in countries where dirty water is the norm, filters save lives
- World Vision piglet and two chicks, $65 — in the spirit of teach a man to fish and all that…
- Aeroplan Beyond Miles supporting The Stephen Lewis Foundation — donate your Aeroplan miles and pool them with others who are doing the same to make a huge impact; this foundation works with 15 African countries to help improve the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS
- Aeroplan Beyond Miles supporting MusiCounts — also part of the charitable pooling program; for those of you concerned about funding organizations that do good work in Canada, this is one that ensures Canadian children (regardless of socio-economics) have access to music programs
- Aeroplan Beyond Miles supporting War Child Canada — more on the charitable pooling front, War Child Canada’s aim is to protect and restore childhood in war-torn countries
- Plan Canada stack of books, $60 (privately matched to $180) — an actual stack of books, literally
- Plan Canada goat, $75 — gifting a family an animal helps provide long-lasting nutrition and can lead to income when paired with a mate
- Plan Canada endless harvest, $40 (privately matched to $160) — tools, seeds and training. Everything a family needs to make a garden grow
- UNICEF art-in-a-box, $32 — which provides art supplies for seven children, designed to encourage art therapy
- UNICEF bed nets, $10 for two nets — killing 10 per cent of children throughout Africa, malaria can be prevented with something as simple and inexpensive as mosquito netting
- UNICEF Pumpy’Nut, $12 for a pack of 21 nutritious pouches — it’s food therapy that helps malnourished babies and children
- Me to We Moonbean Glow jewelry set, $95 — this gorgeous set, made by a mother under fair working conditions in Kenya, pays for three prenatal workshops for expectant moms
- Because International’s The Shoe That Grows, $15 — did you know that more than two billion people suffer from soil-transmitted parasites and diseases? These shoes help children protect their feet better than regular shoes, shoes that are too small or (often) no shoes at all. Each pair adjusts five sizes, lasting five years! Available on a sliding cost scale based on how many you buy, a single pair is $50; you get a pair for your child and the organization donates two pairs
- SickKids holiday meal, $45 (privately matched with another $45) — imagine being stuck in hospital during the holidays. Now imagine sitting down to a turkey and all the fixings that someone else prepared for you, so you can just be a family
- SickKids wish list gift, $65 (privately matched with another $65) — every child deserves to open a gift on Christmas morning
- SickKids sleeper chair, $45 — I know I wouldn’t leave my sick child’s bedside, and sleeper chairs allow parents to get the best-quality rest they can so they have the energy to be there for their kids during what must be a terrible time in their young lives
DISCLAIMERS: All images for the gifting collage belong to the respective charities above. I have not personally tested any of the noted items (somehow it just didn’t feel right asking for a goat). Plan Canada is one of my firm’s clients; I don’t work on the account nor have they asked (or cajoled!) me to include any of the Gifts of Hope on my site. I volunteered because I love the work that Plan Canada does. Finally, yes, we will be supporting one of the above-mentioned organizations this holiday season…we just haven’t decided which one yet.