Making it merry for everyone

Many of us look forward to celebrating beside a warm fire with hot chocolate, eggnog and holiday treats. But too many will spend this season alone, with little warmth and possibly not even enough to eat.

There are ways you can help.

University of Guelph-Humber Food Drive: Guelph-Humber is “fighting to end hunger in our communities” with it’s annual food drive running until December 20th. On every office floor, a yellow bin is accepting non-perishable food items. You can donate items such as; canned vegetables, flour, oatmeal, rice, canned meat in water, canned fish, baby food and formula and olive oil too. Rick Thomson, leader of the food drive says that in the past years the amount of perishable items has fluctuated, but has remained around 1,000 pounds sent to the Daily Bread Food Bank centre in Toronto. He hopes to see more donations this year.

Humber College’s Toy Drive: Paul Iskander, Humber North’s director of campus services and Humber College are “giving hope on Christmas Day” to the Albion Boys and Girls Club and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto while hosting it’s 15th annual toy drive. Until December 15th, you can donate toys and also items for teenagers. Iskander, organizer and collector for the drive says that teenagers need more donations. “The need is always for teenagers. We get a lot of dolls and teddy bears, but teenagers need shaving kits, makeup bags, chargers, iPads and other things suited for a teen.”

 “I believe that our community should help the surrounding areas because we’re the big brothers and sisters and we need to help each other out. It brings everyone together and it helps all of us to learn how to give to someone in need.”

-Paul Iskander, Humber North’s director of campus services

Holiday Volunteering in Toronto: From formal to informal ways of giving back to the community, here’s what you need to know. Cara Eaton, Marketing & Communications manager at Volunteer Toronto says that during the month of December, many not-for-profit organizations see a rush of people interested in volunteering and giving meals to the homeless on Christmas Day.

“Most of the popular holiday shifts at shelters are filled months in advance by regular volunteers who have proven themselves reliable,” Eaton says. “In December, we see a mismatch between the needs of the non-profits and eager well-intentioned holiday volunteers. At the moment, less than 20 holiday volunteering roles are listed on our website and not one role for serving meals to the homeless in December is available,” Eaton says.

But fear not! There’s lots of opportunities throughout the year, and Eaton would like to see more people channel the holiday spirit and take those good intentions to help people for the rest of the year. One way is to fill out a form on Volunteer Toronto’s website for non- profit organizations and look for opportunities there. Many of them, Eaton says, have a three- month commitment requirement.

If you really want to give back right now, or can’t volunteer this season, then there are many “informal ways” you can do so, with Volunteer Toronto’s list of other ways to give back which also has locations you can donate to. On Volunteer Toronto’s website you can click on certain points in an interactive map to see where you can donate and help the homeless. If you like to knit and donate, then visit Yarn It Forward’s website to see where you can donate.

This holiday season, think of those who don’t have a shelter, who don’t have a home and who have to sit in the cold, many without proper food or clothing for the winter. The next time you buy yourself a coffee, pay it forward and buy one for a homeless person you see. Even the smallest of expenses can go a long way. From Dollar stores you can buy a pair of gloves and a hat under five dollars and even buy non- perishable food items for under 10 dollars. You can even donate old blankets to help someone fight the cold.