December can be a joyous, festive time of year for many. It’s also a time to reflect on the year behind us and to think about those who continue to have limited access to resources and support. While some of us enjoy time with family and friends, good food and a warm fire to ring in the new year, there are others who will experience stress, hardship and disconnection from community.
While we encourage donating and volunteering all through the year, the end of the year is often a time of reflection that inspires many people to think how they can support their community and give back in a meaningful way. So, whether it's through a donation or action, there are many opportunities to help those whose spirits’ might need a little extra lift. If you don't know where to start, we've rounded up several unique and easy ways to give back.
Discover a nonprofit in your community
We would encourage you to explore and discover the member organizations that are part of the Pillar Nonprofit Network. Many of them are small and medium-sized nonprofits, operating on small budgets, but doing very important and impactful work – they are often the backbone of a community's support. This support can look like many things, including financial donations, volunteering and/or providing gift cards, hygiene products and warm mittens and socks.
While we cannot list all of our amazing members in one article we are happy to share a few examples of how you can support our members and other important local organizations below. Please learn more about the extraordinary work of our members here.
Anova operates two 24-hour emergency shelters in London. Reducing operating costs for the shelters through donations from the public helps ensure their essential services continue to be free of charge for abused women and children. Check out their Festive Wish List & December Needed Items for ways to support.
For the past 25 years, LIFE*SPIN has been coordinating a successful Community Christmas Sponsor Program for London’s low-income community. Last year they distributed over 1,200 Christmas hampers to families in need, which is an enormous accomplishment with a most heart-warming outcome. Community support has enabled them to help reduce hardships that many low-income families and their children face each day. You can sign up to sponsor a family or make a donation here.
Unity Project has done extraordinary work for years to help people into housing and now, during a pandemic, has had to increase its supports, expanding to a local hotel and serving up to 75 participants a night, plus many pets. The good news is that 32% of participants have exited the shelter to housing. But that leaves work to do for the 68% that remain homeless. You can make a donation to help Unity Project help others here.
Community Resource Centres
Get to know your community Resources Centres in your neighbourhood. So many people in all corners of the city depend on these centres for support and community, and they could use your hands or resources to ensure they can meet the needs of those they serve.
- Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre
- Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre
- LUSO Community Services
- Northwest London Community Resource Centre
- South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre
Volunteer your time and your skills
For some organizations, COVID has impacted volunteer opportunities so there may not currently be as many opportunities as in the past. There are still organizations who provide essential front line services to the community that rely on volunteers and there are ways to support virtually as well.
Ark Aid Mission is putting together their 2nd annual Out of the Cold Program. The Program begins December 6th, 2021, and will end March 31, 2022. This is a 24-hour drop-in program (12 hours during the day at the Central Branch YMCA providing meals and programming; and 12 hours at night at First St. Andrews Church providing warmth, resting space, and care). This is a frontline position working directly with Londons' homeless population. Learn more here.
Are you a bit arts & crafty, and want to do something positive this holiday season to help your community? Progressive Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) is looking for individuals, families or groups to undertake a very special holiday fundraising drive! Learn more here.
We would encourage you to check out volunteer opportunities on our website now and throughout the year here.
Gifts that make a difference
Did you know that many of our members sell products and services and the financial revenue that they generate helps them offer programs in our community? Learn more about our members who are also social enterprises here.
Atlohsa Gifts is London’s leading retailer of authentic items from First Nations, Métis and Inuit artisans. All proceeds go to Atlohsa Family Healing Services - a non-profit charitable organization in Southwestern Ontario, dedicated to strengthening community through Indigenous-led programs and services that offer holistic healing and wellness.
YOU supports youth to build skills, confidence and independence to reach their potential. They operate five social enterprises in London and Middlesex County. These sites are designed to support youth in learning new skills and gaining meaningful work experience in a hands-on environment. Stop by YOU Made it Café at 333 Richmond Street for a meal or order some takeout for you or a friend. You can also order jam, wood products and other gift items on their online store if you’re looking for a unique local gift. All proceeds from social enterprise sales support the youth programming that YOU delivers, which allows the organization to be more sustainable.
Do something selfless in your community
Grab your favorite pen and a piece of stationary and get writing. Send simple, touching letters to people in hospitals and nursing homes. Offer to pay for the coffee for the person behind you, help a neighbour shovel snow or carry groceries. For some people, this time of year can be a lonely, stressful time. With these small but meaningful actions, you can instantly improve their day.
If you have kids, talk to them about giving back when they are young, or better yet, let them witness or participate in community care to foster a spirit of giving. Or, why not ask your family to take on a collective charitable challenge, such as baking muffins or cookies for a shelter, or donating to a nonprofit that you and your family are passionate about?
When we incorporate generosity into hearts and minds, we collectively make the world a better place. We feel so grateful that we get to connect and collaborate with organizations in our community that are making a difference in the lives of our community. Thank you to every single one of you who has given back this year, in whatever way you could.