I have enough stuff. And I know for a fact that my friends and family have enough stuff too…based not only on the struggle to find the perfect gift, but also on how many times I wish I just got cold hard cash under the tree instead of the things that in the moment are thoughtful and in the next trashed. That sounds harsh — Nana, if you’re reading this, I promise I did wear that sweater once! — but it’s the truth. Granted, I’m also lucky enough to not need the cash either. Personally, all I want for Christmas is quality time with my loved ones.
Over the last couple years, I’ve become more and more involved within the nonprofit community, culminating in my first humanitarian press trip last month. That coupled with my own efforts at home have finally motivated me to do what I’ve always wanted to do this time of the year — substitute gifts for donations to my charities of choice. And I have a lot of them. Most of us, even if we don’t know it, have causes near and dear to our hearts. I want to share with you a few of mine, which may inspire you to think of yours.
In 2009, my dad was in a serious motorcycle accident. To this day, our family is so grateful for the staff at Toronto Rehab for everything they did for him during his months-long stay. I understand — sometimes — when people berate our health system. But it has pulled through for our family time and again. One of my best friends is a doctor and she alone shows me how hard it is to do what they do — from the administrators to the nurses and, of course, the doctors. I know for a fact my dad wouldn’t be where he is now without this incredible institution.
My papa passed away from Alzheimer’s, a debilitating disease that I would argue is as hard on loved ones as it is for the patient him- (or her-) self considering the loss of self. It’s also a disease that to this day requires much funding for research.
Back in 2016, I ran the Scotiabank Marathon for Skylark Youth. It was the first time in my adulthood that I dedicated a personal goal with a charitable one. I even had the pleasure of meeting with the staff before the run to understand better who they were, what Skylark was and why it was imperative to raise funds for this incredible youth mental health nonprofit. I was especially intrigued by its mental health walk-in clinic, a first (and I believe still only) service available in North America.
I finally started volunteering regularly a couple months ago. As an avid book lover, I couldn’t think of a better place to help out than the Children’s Book Bank. Essentially a food bank for books, it provides under privileged families with a beautiful and safe space to spend educational time with their children. Best of all, each family member can take a book that they keep for themselves. I always believe that children and education are two of the most important things we could ever focus on.
And of course, SOS Children’s villages. I’ll be talking about this organization in more depth soon, so stay tuned! Until then, I hope you followed along my press trip to Dominican Republic to see just why this nonprofit is so important for the world.