As the old adage goes, the days are long but the years are short. And just like that, the holidays are right around the corner once again.
This is awesome news! We love a good festive holiday party and a rum and eggnog or three.
But the holidays also bring to light another harsh reality: not everyone shares the same cheery experience at this time of year.
And the true spirit of the holidays is finding ways to give back and make a positive impact in the lives of our fellow Torontonians.
While we don’t all have the means to cut a massive cheque to charity, that isn’t the only way to help out. So, we’ve compiled some founder-friendly ways to support local organizations, non-profits, and businesses that'll be spending their holidays working to make things better for people.
Gifts of Light (CAMH)
After a brutal few years, the number of Ontarians seeking help for their mental health has skyrocketed. The isolation and economic stressors that we've all experienced since 2020 have put a strain on many of us--and the organizations that try to help.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is one of those that is always looking for community support. Its Gifts of Light program offers resources and experiences to more than 14,000 patients every year and is entirely donation-driven.
At least 6,000 Canadian youths between the ages of 13 and 24 have nowhere to sleep each night. Forty percent of our homeless population first experience it before the age of 16, and Covenant House works to help them.
Donations provide things like food, shelter, education, and job training for our most vulnerable, but there are non-monetary ways of helping too. Participating in the semi-annual Sleep Out can help increase awareness of the problem and show support for struggling youths across the country.
We all know that winters in Toronto can be brutal. But for those who don't have warm clothing, it can be dangerous. If you’re up for a little legwork, you can organize a coat drive to collect gently used jackets and parkas for people who need them most.
With 36 service locations throughout the GTA, WoodGreen is one of the biggest social service agencies in Canada. It provides support to 37,000 people every year through its programs and services focused on housing, employment, education, and newcomer settlement.
WoodGreen has a ton of different opportunities for volunteers–everything from delivering hot meals to tutoring adults who want to improve their literacy skills.
For kids, one of the most exciting parts about the holidays is getting to unwrap some awesome gifts. But for a ton of families in the GTA, this isn’t a reality.
Holiday Helpers accepts with one-time donations and sponsorships that help make Christmas special for kids and families in need.
You can donate online or drop off new, unwrapped toys at any of the Holiday Helpers locations across Toronto. You can also sponsor a family and purchase items from a wishlist that they have created.
If you're looking for a more hands-on opportunity, you can sign up to be one of Santa's warehouse or delivery elves and help with the distribution of gifts on Christmas Eve.
If none of these options seem like the right fit, or you want to do more than just a one-time donation around the holidays, remember that Volunteer Toronto has a database of opportunities updated daily to let you or your business help those who need it.
Support Local Businesses
If you’re looking for another way to use your dollars to support the local community for the holidays, you can think about shopping with some awesome local businesses rather than at big box stores. And it just so happens the Project Spaces community is full of them! Here are just a few with some great offerings this holiday season:
Founded by member Jerry Chang, IPPINKA was born to curate incredibly-designed sustainable products that are:
- Made to a high standard of quality
- Designed with minimalism so they withstand the test of time
- Environmentally and socially conscious
Another local business with sustainability at its core is TO Candle Co, founded by member Lauren Youssiem. The company offers 100% soy wax candle creations, all lovingly hand poured in Toronto, ON.
Their best seller is their "Tealightful Creations" collection where they upcycle vintage tea cups into beautiful, one-of-a-kind candles. You can choose from their ready-made collection or create your own custom candle where you get to choose your shape, wax colour, and scent for a truly unique creation.
And last but far from least, Tailwind, founded by member Devin Golets, is a student wellness organization that supports domestic and international students who are going to college or university.
They’ve developed an online student success guide to first year, which was created and delivered by current university students, therapists, award-winning career counsellors, and university lecturers.
It's made for students, parents, and families who are preparing for their first year of college or university and designed to reduce stress and anxiety around the transition.
For even more ideas, you can check out our article profiling 38 amazing Toronto-based stores, bars, gyms, and restaurants.
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