The time I spend with my family and friends throughout the holiday season is very special to me. We all lead such busy lives, but over the holidays, the world seems to slow down just a bit and we take time to be together.
The holidays are a time we need to remember to be charitable in our hearts – for the season, and throughout the year. A truly charitable heart recognizes the connectedness of all humanity, and understands that we all matter to each other, regardless of how our lives are different. Being charitable means wanting to give, even more than wanting to get, and removing personal agendas from the equation. Most of all, charity is about removing the judgment that we often tacitly attach to the needs of others. We should give with the consciousness of connectedness and humbleness.
People are always trying to be happier, and measure happiness. A joint study out of UBC and Harvard found that people are happier when they spend money on others rather than themselves, regardless of their income. Over the holidays, this may mean gifts to your friends and families. But I’d challenge you to also give gifts to those you don’t know. Make a donation to a charity you love, send a charity gift card, donate toys or supplies to a local shelter, or talk to someone who is experiencing homelessness and offer your love and support.
Volunteering is another great way to get involved in your community this season, and to offer your skills to organizations in need. There are countless opportunities, from shelters and food banks, to arts groups, churches and schools; they all look for different time commitments from volunteers. Volunteer Canada is a great resource that can help you find a volunteer centre in your community. You can also look for opportunities based on your skills and interests at getinvolved.ca
This season, I’d also encourage you to think about how you can share the spirit of giving, and inspire a charitable heart in others. Do something selfless in your community, like helping your neighbour shovel snow or carry groceries. Talk to your kids about giving back when they are young, or better yet, let them witness or participate in your charitable acts to foster a spirit of giving. Or, why not ask your family to take on a collective charitable challenge this season, such as serving dinner to others on Christmas Day, or donating a portion of your shopping budget to others?
I would encourage you to explore and discover small and medium-sized charities this holiday season. There are over 86,000 charities in Canada, and most of them are small and medium-sized, operating on small budgets, but doing very important and impactful work – they are often the backbone of a community support. I have personally seen the benefit of small charities. When we discovered my son had an illness, we relied on the support from a small charity. I am grateful for their support and I’m inspired when I think about how many organizations in Canada are doing such great work – work that many people don’t know about. Discover a charity in your community you did not know about this season and get to know them – smaller charities in Canada need our support.
When we incorporate charity into hearts and minds, we collectively make the world a better place. I feel so grateful that I get to wake up each day and come to work at a job that changes the lives of so many people. We’re directly connected to 15,000 charities across the country that are making a difference in the lives of others. And the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who give to charities through CanadaHelps.org each year continue to inspire me with their generosity. Thank you to every single one of you who has given back this year, in whatever way you could.
Wishing you and your family a joyful, safe, and charitable holiday season.