The holiday season is here. Around this time of year, we hear from many of you who are looking for opportunities to give back to the nearly 1 in 5 adults in Toronto and 1 in 8 people in York Region who live in poverty.
This also includes many small- and medium-sized businesses that are looking for thoughtful and impactful ways to change lives locally—but might not know where to start.
So we put together a few suggestions. One place to start? Seasonal volunteer opportunities—such as delivering holiday meals to individuals and families in need or packing holiday hampers.
“It can be a lot of fun to come together with your colleagues outside of a work environment in the spirit of giving back,” says Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement at Volunteer Toronto, which currently has several holiday-specific volunteering opportunities listed on its website.
Since volunteering opportunities in the non-profit sector tend to go quickly around the holidays, Chambers has a few other ideas for employees and businesses to give back. These include organizing a clothing drive at your office, creating care kits for homeless shelters, contributing to local toy drives or even donating items such as food and blankets to animal shelters.
Another way to demonstrate that your company cares? Make a gift through an online giving catalogue such as United Way’s Warmest Wishes.
It’s a quick and easy way to spread some warmth—including much-needed winter necessities such as clothing, food and care—to people right here in our communities.
And the need is great. On any given night, some 5,000 people in Toronto alone find themselves homeless and facing winter’s harsh realities. A meal, a pair of winter boots or a warm winter jacket can help change a life.
“It makes us feel good to be able to give back locally,” says Andrew Buck, CEO of Toronto-based Juice Worldwide. “Gift giving opportunities like this are a win-win for us. Our staff can demonstrate in a very tangible way that they really care about making a difference in the lives of people right here in our communities.”
Chambers agrees. “In recent years, we’ve increasingly seen consumers looking to buy local and to really support their local communities,” says Chambers. “Whether it’s buying a winter jacket for someone in need or wrapping presents for a charity toy drive, giving back in these ways really puts a heart behind what companies are doing.”
Now we want to hear from you. What is your workplace doing to give back this holiday season? Why not join others in giving the gift of warmth? Warmestwishes.ca