Forget Gifts: Give Back this Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for giving both big and small, whether that means donating your spare change to your local shelter, helping a neighbour shovel their driveway, or even making a phone call to an old friend you haven’t connected with in a while.

The spirit of giving inspired Jennifer Carson, a team member and Resource Planning Manager at Telus, to do something even bigger: adopt a family with Kinette Club of Calgary.

Jennifer’s drive to give back is a huge part of her life; she even sought out working at Telus because of its commitment to philanthropy. She says that volunteering is the best way to address the feeling of helplessness that comes with not doing enough, and she wanted to spread that feeling by encouraging all the team members on her floor to help with the adoption. Her team raised money through pizza lunches and fundraising drives to afford gifts like clothes and food for the family.

If involving your whole workplace in an act of charitable giving seems like a tall order, there are many other ways that you can commit to helping those in need this holiday season. Kinette Club of Calgary, a branch of the national association of Kin Canada, is always looking for new members to adopt low income families and build hampers filled with essential items. If your budget is a little tighter, you can still get involved by sending gift cards to families who have a hard time making ends meet.

Another creative way to give back this season is to donate your time to local foundations and social programs in your area. Someone is always looking for an extra pair of hands, whether for literacy programs for kids in schools, meals on wheels, or soup kitchens and shelters. Even if it’s just for a few hours during the month of December, charitable organizations could really use your help.

There’s also the tried-and-true method of monetary donations. You can choose to support charities in your area or use services like Charity Navigator to find the best ones to give to worldwide. You can even check the ranking of your organization of choice with the site’s search function (the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders consistently score high grades). Whether it’s the cost of your coffees for the week or a portion of your annual income, and every little bit helps.

Finally, where you choose to work can also make a difference. Working for large companies or small businesses that engage in giving back or donating their time and expertise helps ensure that you’re making a difference in the world. For example, Telus is committed to helping the communities where its teams live and work, contributing to healthier, more connected communities that make their employees proud. Telus’ social purpose is accomplished through initiatives such as its community investments and donations, corporate sponsorships, and its recent #MillionHours project, in which team members committed to volunteering a million hours from coast to coast as their gift to Canada in honour of its 150th birthday. Across Canada, many other companies uphold the importance of similar charitable giving.

The holidays aren’t the only time that charities like these need your help, but there’s no better time to start giving back. It may seem overwhelming at first, but take Jennifer’s example as a sign that these goals are achievable. You can tackle a small initiative on your own, or you can gather a group for support to make an even bigger impact. It’s worth putting in the effort to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, especially for those of us who have the time or means to support our local communities.