Giving Back During the Holidays

The holidays present the perfect opportunity to give back to our communities, especially to those not as fortunate as ourselves. Helping others rejuvenates us in ways that a wrapped gift can’t, taking the focus off accumulating “more stuff” and putting it back where the true meaning of giving lies.

Giving back doesn’t need to involve a monetary donation. You can volunteer your time at a local charity, donate goods you don’t need or do a ‘drive’ to collect clothing or personal care items for people in need. Volunteering can also involve your profession: many organizations would welcome you to donate your time as a nurse, photographer, graphic designer, yoga instructor, massage therapist, etc.

Five Places to Give Back in Vancouver

Lookout Emergency Aid Society – Volunteer as a kitchen or clean-up helper during holiday meals or a Christmas helper, Santa, elves or musician on Christmas Day at this organization that supports emergency shelters, transitional housing, outreach and training programs. The society is also looking for many other types of volunteers.

YMCA Presents of Peace Holiday Hamper Program – Assist a low-income Vancouver single parent who is facing the holidays with no other support (i.e. family, ex-partner, other agencies, etc.) by providing a gift hamper. Note: Hampers are due in the family’s home by Dec. 19th.

Union Gospel Mission – Volunteer or do a ‘personal goods’ drive (toiletries, warm clothes) to support their large range of services, including meals, outreach, emergency shelter, affordable housing, children & family programs, alcohol & drug recovery and more.

Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society– An obvious choice at this time of year, but beyond donating the most needed items to local donation bins, the Food Bank always needs volunteers for their warehouse, depots and events; and appreciates specific gifts in kind.

Your Neighbours – Most of us can think of an elderly, disabled or homebound neighbour that may appreciate some able-bodied help. Depending on your (and their) comfort level, offer to help them with their shopping, drive them to an appointment, put up some festive lights or – if it snows – shovel their walkway and stairs. You could also bring them a surprise such as a warm meal, holiday treat or plant.

Giving back shouldn’t stop when the holidays are over. There are countless Lower Mainland organizations that need our help throughout the year. Check out more volunteer opportunities here.

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