It’s the end of November and the sights and sounds of the Christmas season are beginning to dominate every spare moment of our lives. Decorations are up, wish lists are completed, and we are just coming off of one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are collectively wiping sweat off their brows as they revel in all the deals and savings they secured over the weekend.
As a parent to very young children, I am aware of how enchanting Christmas is, especially as a person who loves this time of year from the tips of my fingers to the soles of my feet. The toys and decorations at our favourite stores are mesmerizing to my children and become even more enticing to them as each year passes.
I often find myself worrying about the coming years and how I am going to teach my children that the joy of giving is even more satisfying than the joy of receiving. How can I possibly compete with the flashy commercials and toy-littered stores that lure them at every corner?
Enter Giving Tuesday, a global movement for giving and volunteering occurring every November right after Cyber Monday. It is a young movement as this is only its fourth year, but it is quickly gaining popularity and is considered the “opening day of the giving season”.
Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to begin teaching my children about the importance of giving back, and if the movement continues to gain in popularity (as it has been every year since its inception), it may even become trendier than it’s commercialized counterparts.
Dedicating an entire day to giving back may seem like “one more thing” to put on our mile-long to-do lists, but with local and online initiatives it may be easier than getting a coffee at your local java joint.
I took to social media and asked my followers about some of their favourite local charities. As always, they pulled through with a great list. Here are a few of their ideas, as well as some of my own.
A Few Local and Global Charities and Initiatives
Samaritan’s Purse – Their Operation Christmas Child program is one that I participated in for many years. Carefully choosing items and filling a shoebox for a child in need is a tradition that many families do together and is an amazing way to teach children about the spirit of giving.
Santa for Seniors (Sask) – This is an outreach program that focuses on improving the lives of seniors in the community. Their Christmas program gives out gift tags labelled with a senior’s name and “wish list”, then the tags are returned with gifts attached for the senior, and those gifts are delivered to care homes at Christmas time. Check out their Facebook page and media coverage for more details.
Humane Society/SPCA – This year, the Regina Humane Society put out a holiday catalogue wherein you can pay certain amounts of money to “order” your donation item for the shelter. You can specify whether your money goes towards such things as treats, toys, and beds, or towards pet adoption/shelter fees, a pet therapy visitation, or emergency care as well as a plethora of other necessities. This year, my family will be donating money towards the Kiddy Readers Program, which helps socialize shelter cats while a parent and child work on literacy skills through reading together.
Z99’s Adopt a Family – This is the 20th year that Z99 is helping to raise money for families in need in partnership with the Salvation Army. Visit Z99’s website for the Regina and Moose Jaw contact numbers, register to adopt a family, then gather family members or coworkers together to provide a deserving family with Christmas gifts and a Christmas meal.
Transition House – With locations throughout Saskatchewan, Transition House has been providing support to women and children for 40 years. Their Regina website has a wish list of items they would love to have donated, or cash donations are appreciated as well.
The Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan Making Spirits Bright Holiday Giving Campaign commences this week which provides an online catalogue where people can purchase items for the hospital ranging from toys and craft supplies to important medical equipment.
The Shoebox Project – This is a program that “collects and distributes gifts in the form of shoeboxes to women who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in communities across Canada”. Here in Saskatchewan there are holiday drives in both Regina and Saskatoon.
The options for organizations in which to donate are endless, and they reach people from across the globe to our own backyards. In Estevan, they have an Angel Tree program where the community buys gifts for children and donates them. Then, parents who may not be able to afford gifts for their kids are able to shop these items so their children have gifts under the tree Christmas morning.
Giving Tuesday is helping to shift our focus from a very consumer-driven weekend of shopping and sales back towards to true meaning of the Christmas spirit.
I am so excited to teach my kids about the importance of kindness and giving, and how together we can make the world a little bit more awesome.
How will you give back this #GivingTuesday?