The Value of Giving Back
Christmas/the holiday season is coming! Whatever you celebrate (or don’t), the time of year is coming when there is an increased focus on taking care of those around you and contributing to causes for those less fortunate. Colder weather brings a host of problems to Victoria’s significant homeless population and commercials glorifying extravagant gifts and indulgent meals polarize the reality that many of those around us are going without. However, many of the issues faced by those who get extra help around the holidays are in fact present year ‘round, so although there is more social focus on giving back through December, there is value to spreading out volunteer time and donations evenly throughout the year.
So what can you do to help?
The first thing to decide is whether you have the time and/or the money to offer support. If you have neither time nor money, chances are that at this time you are not in a position to help those less fortunate, or you may be in the position of needing help – and that’s ok. Asking for help is so hard but so necessary for everyone at some point in their life. The key there is to know what it feels like now, so that hopefully when you are at a point in your life where you have resources to offer, you are more likely to do so.
If you have TIME, you can start with these ideas:
There are a host of volunteer opportunities in Victoria that, depending on your skill set and interests, are options to look into. A few of our staff favourites are as follows:
Big Brothers Big Sisters: Our Kinesiologist, Cara, has been a big sister for over five years now, and she loves it. The commitment to being a Big Brother or Big Sister is a minimum of two hours a week for one year. Once you complete the vetting process (including a criminal records check for working with an at risk population, reference checks, and an interview), you will be paired with a little brother or sister, and from there you get to build a bond. It’s fun, rewarding, and you get to do and try things that you might not otherwise think of doing if you don’t usually hang out with children. Also, because the goal of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to not put a significant financial burden on their Bigs, they offer a lot of donated events and tickets to their pairings, as well as suggesting a host of discounted or free events to try. For more information you can visit https://victoria.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/volunteer/ to see what options might work for you.
One of our Physiotherapists’, Beth, uses her Physio skill set to volunteer twice a month at the Cool Aid Community Health Centre downtown. You don’t need to have a health care skill set to offer, there are also lots of opportunities for people with a wide variety of experiences or interests to be involved. Cool Aid has some details about the type of jobs they have available if this interests you.
If animals are more your type of person, the Victoria SPCA is often looking for people to help out with socialization, walking, and other events around town. SPCA . Other organizations like Cat’s Cradle animal rescue and the Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders are often looking for safe homes to foster animals who are waiting for adoption or are recovering after having been rescued Cats Cradle Animal Rescue.
If you have craft skills and want to put them to good use, the list of organizations that accept donations of warm clothing items is long: Victoria Homelessness you can crochet or knit hats and socks to help keep people warm through the cold months. Some organizations also accept gently used warm outerwear options if you come across some when you’re cleaning out your closet. Lab Health is doing a sock drive over the next few months to collect socks to help keep feet warm over the cold winter months.
If you have MONEY to offer:
There are some benefits to donating, like tax receipts and feeling like you’ve done something good. Whatever cause you choose to support, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Cash allows any cause to buy in bulk and allocate resources most effectively. The temptation to do a food drive and collect non-perishable foods for the food bank is high, but it makes it harder for the food bank to manage their resources and actually provide nutritious options for those in need. Non-perishable foods are often high in sodium and other preservatives, and need to be stored until they can be used, taking up valuable space. Cash allows food banks to budget consistently throughout the year, covering times when donations are low. It also allows them to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables in season to support the health of those who need to use the food bank.
Maybe you don’t have time or money:
Even if you don’t have either you may have one pair of clean, dry, great-condition socks that you can donate to us so that we can pass them on to an organization that supports members of our community in need. We all know the horrible feeling of wet socks and giving just one pair of socks will pass on the feeling of WARMTH and COMFORT to a perfect stranger. For the whole month of November we are collecting Socks for Success, come in and drop off your socks and know that you are providing someone with the much needed feeling that someone else cares!
Whatever way you choose to give, volunteering and giving back is a great way to support your community, be involved, and know that you are making a positive impact.