How to Pay It Forward This Holiday Season
The holiday season is here, and along with them comes a chance to reflect on the things we were thankful for over the past 12 months.
But for the 235,000 homeless people across Canada, the most difficult part of the year is just beginning. Surviving the sub-zero temperatures of a Canadian winter is a challenge when you don’t have a place to curl up and escape the cold.
The holidays can be a difficult time for homeless people and people living in poverty. There are reminders of the festive season everywhere you go – and while everyone is thinking about the things they want, the season hits harder for homeless people who have to think about whether they’ll get the things they need: warm, nourishing meals; a connection to family and friends; a safe place to call home.
This year, the ongoing pandemic means more challenges for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. It has never been more important to help each other and make a real difference in someone’s life.
So as you gather with friends and family to count your blessings, remember those who aren’t as fortunate. Here are a few ways to pay it forward and make a difference for people experiencing homelessness this holiday season.
Make a Donation
Homeless shelters, food banks, and other charitable organizations rely on donations to help people in need. Financial donations allow charities to act fast and respond to people’s needs more efficiently than other donations. Additionally, you will receive a charitable tax credit.
If your family participates in the tradition of gift-giving, you already have a built-in opportunity to pay it forward. Consider making donations in people’s names and giving them a certificate as a gift. Or, you can be extra generous by asking that people donate to a local homeless shelter or organization instead of giving you a gift.
Before deciding what to donate, make sure you ask the organization you’re partnering with what they need most. It’s more fun to buy gifts for children than menstrual products and socks, but the shelter may already be overflowing with toys.
Share The Warmth Shop our Virtual Gift Catalogue
Share The Warmth is a virtual gift catalogue where you can’t buy anything for yourself, but you can buy much-needed items for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Instead of shopping thoughtlessly, you can give thoughtfully, and share the warmth with the most vulnerable this holiday season.
This virtual catalogue includes everything that people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness need: from a warm hat and a hot meal, to job interview skills and a safe place to live. This year’s challenges have only added to homeless people’s basic needs – for example, a face mask and hand sanitizer.
Give of Your Time
Many social service organizations are supported by volunteers. And because the winter months are the busiest time of year with shelters running above capacity, they can use all the help they can get.
You can volunteer by yourself, with your friends or family, or as part of a larger group. Many businesses will send a team of people to make food, care for facilities, or assemble packages full of basic necessities. This is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of homelessness in Toronto and, most importantly, to be a part of the vital community work that helps people rebuild their lives.
One of the easiest ways to help the homeless this winter is simply to be kind!
When you encounter a homeless person while you’re out, treat them the way you would want to be treated. Give them a smile and a greeting, and if you have the means, try to meet a need they have. It could be as small as offering to get them a cup of hot coffee or a nutritious snack. A small act of kindness can go a long way.
Pay It Forward in the Season of Giving
As you focus on your loved ones and the things you’re grateful for this holiday season, don’t forget to pay it forward to those in need around you.
If you’re looking for an organization to partner with, get in touch with us at Fred Victor. We’re working hard to end homelessness in Toronto by giving people the support they need to get back on their feet. Thanks for your support this holiday season—we can’t do it without you!