The holiday season is a special time for many — it’s when families gather together to exchange gifts and create special memories with the ones they love. It’s also the time of year when many are reminded to give. While monetary donations are the most common ways people choose to give back, there are many ways you can support those in need without spending any money. Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference. If you’d like to give back to your community this holiday season, here are a few charities across Ontario you can support:
Daily Bread Food Bank
The Daily Bread Food Bank is one of the largest food banks in Canada, servicing close to 200 food distribution programs in Toronto alone. Food banks just like this one provide necessary services to those facing food insecurity, which is much more common than one might think. While you can donate your time as a volunteer, did you know you can also hold your own food drive? With help from the Daily Bread Food Bank, you’ll be able to organize one within your very own community.
Community Fridges TO
If you’ve spent any length of time walking around the downtown core, you may have spotted a brightly-painted free-standing fridge on a street corner, or in front of a local business. These are commonly referred to as “community fridges” — a unique food distribution initiative that has become more popular in recent years. Community Fridges TO is a Toronto-based network of fridges and pantries that are stocked with free food and necessities, available to anyone that needs them. Visit their page to find a fridge or pantry near you, or see how you can volunteer your time.
Furniture poverty is not often talked about, but is a pervasive issue that tends to go unnoticed. The Furniture Bank seeks to make living at home a bit more comfortable by providing gently-used furniture to families and individuals in need. Thinking about tossing that old dining chair, or a couch that just isn’t your style anymore? Consider using the Furniture Bank’s specialized removal service, where all proceeds are put towards continuing community outreach.
Yellow Brick House
The Yellow Brick House offers women and children facing danger a safe place to start rebuilding their lives. If you would like to donate to the Yellow Brick House, check out their wish list of urgently needed items, or consider donating your time as a volunteer.
Brantford Food Bank
For over 20 years, the Brantford Food Bank has worked to support the many individuals experiencing food insecurity and hardship by distributing necessities to those in need. If you find yourself clearing out your own pantry, consider saving the non-perishable items to donate.
City Street Outreach
When you choose to support charities in your community, you directly contribute to helping those facing hardship. City Street Outreach (CSO) is a 100% volunteer-run, donation-driven organization working to provide food, clothing and assistance to unhoused youth, seniors, new immigrants and disabled individuals living in poverty. With a strained social safety net, many vulnerable groups fall through the cracks, making charities like this an essential resource in all communities.
One Roof Youth Services
One Roof Youth Services is a Kitchener-Waterloo based organization that provides housing to individuals between the ages of 12 and 25 who are experiencing homelessness. Over the years, thousands have accessed their programs and services, allowing many to transition out of their difficult circumstances and begin rebuilding their lives. Visit their website to learn more about how you can get involved in supporting their continued community outreach efforts.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara Falls
In Canada, there are many children and teens that struggle with different barriers, preventing them from reaching their highest potential. Big Brothers Big Sisters works to connect at-risk youth in the Niagara region through fun games and activities. The goal is to foster an environment where kids and teens can build their self esteem and develop key leadership skills. If you’re looking for different ways to get involved in your community, learn about how you can become a volunteer.
Thinking about donating your old stuff but just don’t know where to start? It can be overwhelming to fish out items you probably haven’t seen in quite some time, so here’s a guide to help you conquer decluttering.
Images courtesy of; Daily Bread Food Bank (Daily Bread Food Bank); The Toronto Observer (Community Fridges TO); Furniture Bank (Furniture Bank); Brantford Expositor (Brantford Food Bank); Will Power (Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara);