Time, Money and Food: How to Get in the Spirit of Giving This Holiday Season

Gerri Frascione knew she couldn’t celebrate this Christmas with gatherings like she did before.

So, this holiday season, she gathered her work team to give back to their community by volunteering with the local community organization Sun Youth, as she did a few years ago. She said that when her daughter was 10, she took her to volunteer.

“She said ‘Mom, thank you for showing me the true meaning of Christmas, it’s really about giving back’, so that stuck with me,” Frascione said.

This year Sun Youth had 5,000 families registered for Christmas baskets. Although the pandemic has left more families in need, corporate donations have fallen by 30%, forcing community organizations like Sun Youth to do more with less.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that between labor shortages, supply chain issues and inflation, many cannot give as much to charity.

However, community organizations face a real need. People can make a difference in their communities by donating their time, money, or donations of toys and food to local charities, said Richard Daneau, CEO of Moisson Montreal.

What’s the best way to give?

While food donations are appreciated by food banks, Daneau says money is usually the best way to donate because of the flexibility it offers organizations.

Michael Labelle, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the West Island Assistance Fund in Roxboro, agrees.

“I would tell people right away, don’t buy food to donate to a food bank,” he said.

“We have access to wholesale pricing and the other thing is, if you donate to us you get a tax credit. So I’m saying please don’t go out and buy some food to donate, donate, they can just write they want for food. “

Toys are an important part of Christmas baskets and donations are lacking, said Eric Kingsley, director of emergency services at Sun Youth.

“There is food coming. There is still room for people to buy toys for older children. It is always a need. We like to put new toys for the baskets”, a- he declared.

Toys are an important part of Christmas baskets and donations are lacking. (Kwabena Oduro / CBC)

But, for organizations like On Rock, which includes a food bank, cafe, and thrift store, food donations are always appreciated as donations tend to dry up after the holidays.

“People are incredibly generous, but I would say a lot of the food we collect now we could use after Christmas as well,” said Kim Reid, founder and president of On Rock.

“I’m willing to take in as much food as I can because I know I can spread it out over the next couple of months if I have that extra. It just makes it easier in the New Year.”

Time is another invaluable resource.

“Every volunteer makes a difference,” Kingsley said.

“We rely a lot on the community for volunteers and they have done a great shift and there are still shifts available. “

When it comes to deciding how to give – and to whom – community players like Reid and Daneau inspire people to do their research. Ultimately, they say, the best way to give is the choice of each donor.

A lot of people are reluctant to donate money because they don’t know how it will be used, so Reid says to check organizations’ websites or even visit food banks.

“The community is incredibly generous this time of year, but you have to direct your generosity to places that are going to be effective,” he said. “Food banks suffer when people withhold their money because they don’t know what we are talking about.”

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