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Make It A Family Tradition To Help Other Families

I’ve always been a Christmas guy. Meaning, I’ve always been part of a family that put much stock in Christmas. I’ve also always been part of a family lucky enough to fill our table with a full Christmas dinner, a Christmas tree with overflowing presents underneath it and plenty of love to spread around. Since having kids, we’ve had the opportunity to continue those traditions.

In Ottawa there are many people celebrating whatever holiday it is they celebrate and many of those families have plenty of the love to go around but maybe not enough of the rest. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was our kids who pointed out to us that not only is that not right, but that it isn’t right for us to do nothing about it.

So this holiday season, I encourage everyone to do something to make another family’s holiday season a bit more comfortable. It doesn’t have to be anything monetary, it could be as simple as holding open a door for someone carrying gifts through a door. Trust me, being someone who goes through periods of up and down emotional stages, something as simple as a smile can change a person’s day.

If you would like to make a financial contribution, there are plenty of organizations out there to help local families celebrate with their loved ones. Many of these organizations are smaller ones that rely on the generous donations of families who can and would be thrilled to have your help.

My personal suggestion is to make this part of your own family tradition–start teaching your children from young age that it’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of everyone else. Let them help you hold the door, let them put some change in a collection jar or let them put a non-perishable food item in a collection bin. I promise you’ll all feel better and a family you might even know will be able to put something on their table this holiday season.

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This story is courtesy of Mike Reynolds from the blog Puzzling Posts. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please head over to the Submit a Story page.

Caring Sharing Exchange

The Caring & Sharing Exchange – Sponsor-a-Hamper Program

The Caring and Sharing Exchange has introduced a new initiative as part of their nearly century old Christmas Exchange Program. Starting this holiday season, members of the Ottawa community can now deliver Christmas directly to local individuals and families in need through the new sponsor-a-hamper program. Sponsors are able to purchase supplies for a hamper, pack it themselves, and deliver it directly to a family in need.

“We are very excited about the addition of this program,” said Cindy Smith, Executive Director of the Caring and Sharing Exchange. “This is a very tangible and personal way for people to give back to the community during the holiday season and with the Exchange’s unique Co-ordination Service all donors can rest assured that there is no duplication of service.”

The Caring and Sharing Exchange provides Christmas assistance to individuals and families in the form of a food hamper or redeemable gift voucher. Last year, the organization’s Christmas Exchange program received requests for assistance from close to 25,000 individuals. Unfortunately, despite the generosity of the Ottawa community, they were able to provide assistance to less than half of this number, leaving thousands without.

“We hope that by offering our supporters another way to give, we will be able to assist more people this year,” said Smith. “This is a way of giving back that allows for a family, business, team or group to get involved and to be assured that 100% of their support goes right into direct assistance.”

Because this organization receives such a large number of requests each year, it allows the sponsor-a-hamper program to offer donors the option of choosing the size of family they would like to make a hamper for. This ranges from an individual or two person household to families of 6 or more. It also allows for the option of making a hamper for seniors.

“Last year, more than ten percent of those we assisted were seniors,” said Smith. “We feel that giving donors the option of choosing to support a senior or seniors in need will be one of the things that make our hamper program unique.”

If you would like to register to sponsor a hamper (or hampers!) this holiday season, please fill out an online registration form available on the Caring and Sharing Exchange’s website at www.CaringandSharing.ca, or e-mail hamper@caringandsharing.ca for more information. You can also make a monetary donation online in order to help this charity provide direct food assistance.

Gifts of Hope

Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope

Plan Canada is a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries. They are asking that you consider a gift from their “Gifts of Hope“. A Gift of Hope from Plan Canada can be an excellent way to engage children at a young age. It presents a unique opportunity for them to learn, talk about and support important global issues.

Gifts of Hope support real projects that change lives in developing countries. Clean drinking water keeps families healthy; fruit trees grow into a valuable food and income source, and provide respite from the burning sun; a food basket provides cooking staples like beans and fortified cereal that can help stave off malnutrition. The addition of the Typhoon Haiyan relief gift is especially impactful as it will help get the necessities of food, clean drinking water, medical supplies, and shelter to children and families in the Philippines. Any of these life-changing gifts would be ideal for teachers, coworkers and even party hosts.

 

 image001 New! Typhoon Haiyan relief: $95
Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the worst storm on record, destroyed entire communities and shattered millions of lives when it struck the Philippines. The storm swept away homes, schools, crops … and lives. But with this gift, you can help children and families recover and rebuild. Plan has worked in the Philippines for more than 50 years and has extensive experience responding to natural disasters and other crises, deploying teams of technical experts to support the immediate delivery of clean drinking water, food, medical supplies, shelter and educational resources.
 image002 New! The Quinoa Project: $35
This superfood is a super gift for almost 15,000 families in developing countries, where poor nutrition and health run rampant. This gift of a family garden includes everything necessary for growing that garden: quinoa seeds and other grain crops; training for growing and harvesting the crops; and the know-how to turn those crops into nutritious meals with cooking classes and recipe books. With this gift, you can help families become healthy and strong for life.Gift-giving idea: If you have a gardening enthusiast in your life, this gift can be wrapped with packages of heirloom seeds for next year’s gardening season.

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New! Fruit Tree: $12 each or 10 for $120
When you give this gift, your efforts will bear fruit in many forms. Planted around homes, fruit trees provide shade from the unrelenting sun and give families nutritious food to eat, helping them stay strong and healthy. Help families in more developing countries reap the harvest of this gift.Gift-giving idea: A perfect gift to give with jars of delicious homemade fruit preserves.

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New! Girls’ take-home rations: $25
Give the gift of food and the gift of education! Many girls in developing countries are often kept at home and out of school because of existing gender roles and stereotypes. With this gift, each month that a young girl regularly attends school, she will receive essential food items such as cooking oil or grains to take home to her family. Feed families, feed young minds, and be part of changing communities, one educated girl at a time.Gift-giving idea: For a daughter, niece or granddaughter, this gift given along with a contribution to an education fund (RESP) emphasizes the importance of an education.

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New! Food Basket: $50
Filled with staples like sugar, peas, beans, and cooking oil, it’s a basic food basket with an impact that is anything but. This gift of food for thousands of pregnant women, mothers and young children under five who are malnourished is ultimately the gift of life, especially in countries like Sierra Leone, where maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world. Along with the food, nutritional training is given as well to help them stay healthy and strong. Basket by basket, you’ll be saving lives.Gift-giving idea: Perfect for home cooks and foodies, give this life-saving gift with a basket of gourmet food items.
 image006 New! School Essentials: $17 for one child, $250 for a class
Fill schools in developing countries with all the essentials to give students the best possible education and the best possible start to a better life. With this gift, you’ll not only be helping provide basics such as textbooks and pencils, you’ll be funding essential school lunch programs and teacher training. This gift will also help children receive education in emergency situations, support programs to reduce school violence and work on improving school hygiene. All of which will help make schools into productive, safe, inspiring spaces where children can get the education they need to make their own choices about the future.Gift-giving idea: A perfect gift for teachers, can be given with a gift certificate from their favourite book store or coffee shop.
 image007  Goat: $75 or $775 for a herd of goats
It just might be the most unique gift you’ll give this year. Goats may make us chuckle with their antics, but the impact they have on a family’s health and income is profound. They provide milk and essential protein for growing children, and the sale of offspring means an income to pay for housing, health, food and schooling. We’re m-a-a-a-d about this gift!Gift-giving idea: A great way to teach children about charity and the developing world, give this gift with a small stuffed goat. Or for an adult, goat’s milk bath products pair well with the spirit of this gift.

This year, give back with Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope, which can easily be purchased over the phone at 1-800-387-1418 or online at plancanada.ca/gifts.  Recipients will receive an electronic or hard copy greeting card letting them know about their personal gift and a tax receipt is issued to the giver.