Making a difference

Ways to give back this holiday season.
Published November 29, 2018

Although the holiday season is often overshadowed by consumerism, it’s also a time for giving and gratitude, and it’s a perfect time to give back to your community.

If you’re looking for things you can do, Volunteer Canada is a great place to start to find a volunteer centre in your area. In no particular order, here are some other ideas for ways you can give others your time this holiday season.


Help a neighbour


Volunteering doesn’t have to be a huge gesture – you can give back to your community by helping out just one person. Perhaps you offer to shovel your neighbour’s driveway one day – or even for the rest of the winter – or bake some treats and deliver them to everybody in your building or on your street. Maybe you offer to drive someone to work instead of watching them line up for the bus in the cold each morning – whatever it is, remember volunteering is just as important when done in small gestures.


Food banks


If you’d like to spend a little money, you can always donate some food or personal hygiene items to your local food bank, but if you’re looking to volunteer your time, you and your family can participate in activities like food sorting at food banks such as Toronto’s Daily Bread.

Click here to find a food bank in your area.




Missions and shelters in your area may be in need of volunteers over the holiday season to serve meals or do any number of tasks. Find out what’s in your community and what they may need. They may have enough volunteers already (the holidays are a popular time to give back) but don’t be discouraged – you can always inquire about volunteering with them in the new year.




This is a great way to do something kind for others. If you are already a knitter, you can turn your next project into a donation item, and if you’re not, you could make it an activity you learn with your partner or family, then donate your creations together. There are groups across the country that collect and donate knitted hats, scarves, mittens and blankets, such as Project Linus and Blankets for Canada. Locally, you can probably find smaller knitting groups that collect donations for hospitals, shelters or safe houses in your area, or you can contact such places directly and find out about donating items yourself.


Animal shelters


Animal shelters are almost always in need of volunteers, and what a wonderful way to spend your free time – in the company of some cuddly creatures. This may also be a family-friendly volunteering opportunity – check with your local shelter or humane society on age restrictions.

Click here for a list of shelters and humane societies across Canada.


Donate blood


As Canadian Blood Services says, it’s in us to give, and there’s always a need for donors. You can donate whole blood or plasma, depending on the need in your community and your blood type. Donors must be at least 17 years old and meet the height and weight requirements before being considered for donation, so if you’re a parent, this isn’t something younger kids can participate in – but you can use your donation as a teaching opportunity and to get your children interested in donating when they’re older.


Item drive/fundraising


You can choose any charity or establishment you’d like to support and then organize an item drive or a fundraising event in your own community. Collect all the items or monetary donations and make the drop-off a family affair.


These are just some suggestions for ways you can volunteer this holiday season, but there are myriad ways you can give back to your community. Take a moment to step back and think about what your community needs. Get creative and brainstorm ideas – talk about it over dinner with your kids. Even if you make one day in one person’s life a little better, that will make a difference.

While the holiday season is a popular time to be charitable, it’s important to remember that people are in need all year. We encourage you to keep the giving spirit going into 2019 and find ways to give back whenever you can.