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Give Back on Giving Tuesday

The holidays are highly commercialized – big box stores barely have Halloween costumes off the racks before the shelves are stocked with Christmas décor. Toy stores are lined with eager shoppers, standing elbow-to-elbow, hoping to snag this year’s hottest toy. And malls are so densely crowded, you’ll probably spend more time circling the full parking lot than you will buying items inside.

It’s pretty simple to get caught up in the holiday hype, but the season is ultimately about giving. Giving Tuesday, which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, marks a time to celebrate and encourage ways to support charities and non-profits. The global day of giving urges all Canadians to give back, either by making a donation, donating time, helping a neighbour or friend, or by simply spreading the word.

While penning his own Christmas list for Santa, my five-year-old asked how he could donate some of his toys to the less fortunate. His selfless request filled me with joy, warm fuzzies and a few tears. My son’s willingness to give back prompted me to dig deeper; I wanted him to see where his belongings would go and how they could help local, underprivileged families.

Here is a Giving Tuesday list of ways you too can give back:

  • Pick a charity, any charity:

There are many charities (about 85,000 registered nationwide) that can benefit from your donation, big or small. Giving is made easy too, as most charities allow you to make a quick, online donation. You just choose a cause you’re interested in, click on the link and presto!

Unlike shoppers guilt that some of us have after making an impulse splurge at the mall, giving to charity will actually make you feel good about your contribution.

  • Clear out the pantry:

Donating non-perishables is a wonderful way to give to your local community. If possible, skip the old dust-covered can of pumpkin filling and opt for items that are in demand, like baby formula, dry pasta, pasta sauce, canned goods like beans and soup, lentils, peanut butter, and macaroni and cheese.

  • Volunteer:

Lending a hand or two may be more valuable than you think. Depending on your interests and talents, there are a number of ways to volunteer your time. From holiday gift wrapping, to helping out at your local food bank, to mentoring young, single parents, you can find opportunities by checking out online volunteer centres, which quickly connect you with programs in your area.

For gently used clothing, toys and household items, organizations like The Salvation Army will accept them as long as they’re not broken or have missing parts. Local police and fire departments, homeless and women’s shelters and many day care centres will also gladly take in toys or stuffed animals. If you’re able to donate new, unwrapped toys, Toy Mountain, Goodwill and the Toronto Firefighters toy drive are just some of places where you can drop them off.

If you aren’t able to go far from home, there’s also the option of scheduling a free pick up for your items. Organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy take in many items, including used toys and books.

Taking part in this global movement dedicated to giving back will allow your entire family to reap the benefits. Your efforts don’t have to be ingenious. Simply lead by example: bring your children with you to volunteer at a soup kitchen, let them drop change into the donation box at the cash register, or explain why you’re paying for a stranger’s order behind you in the Tim’s drive thru. Experts say the benefits of showing children your acts of kindness and generosity will boost their own self esteem and help curb their impulses to say “I want this!” Or “I need that!”

So, mark your calendars for Giving Tuesday, and let your little ones give back too!