Giving This Holiday Season

Dec 10 2012

For many, the holiday season brings out a desire to give back to our community and help those less fortunate than ourselves. We reach out to help in tangible ways such as donating a toy or volunteering to serve a holiday meal. There are many other ways to volunteer time or give to local organizations that can really make a difference in people’s lives. There are many organizations that do great work year round in addition to taking steps to make the holiday season a merry and bright one for those they support. The following are some ways to give and to give back this holiday season, some of which can be done by the whole family!

Donating Your Time
Suggestions on volunteering around the holiday season

Food Donations
Suggestions on organizations accepting food donations that are particularly in need this holiday season.

Gifts in Kind
Suggestions of some organizations that accept in kind donations and maintain wishlists of most needed items.

Monetary Donations
Suggestions of organizations in need of funding for their various programs, plus some tips on how to make an informed donation.

After the Holiday Season is Over
It's easy to think of others during the holiday season, but here are some suggestions of organizations in need of assistance all year round.

Donating Your Time

There are many different places to volunteer your time around the holidays to help support holiday events, fundraisers and meals. Many organizations rely on volunteers to help their programs and special holiday services to run smoothly. Contact the organization you want to volunteer with early. The organizations do want your help but they must have time to organize a good experience for both the volunteer and the organization. Please do not wait until the last few days before Christmas. Special Events

The Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo keeps a list of Special Event volunteer opportunities which can include helping out with holiday parties or wrapping gifts. Check out their holiday volunteer listings for more information on available opportunities.

...Wrapping Gifts

Gift wrappers (individuals or small groups) are needed from Dec 1st to Dec 24th at Fairview Park Mall in support of Grand River Hospital. See the posting here for more information

...Sorting, Serving and Delivering Food

The annual Turkey Drive and Christmas Hamper program sponsored by the House of Friendship and the Rotary Club is in need of volunteers to pack and deliver food hampers from December 7th to December 20th. Contact the House of Friendship or email to get involved.

Volunteer at the Cambridge Food Bank sorting food or helping with Christmas food distribution as a group or a family. Contact the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank directly for information about volunteering.

St John’s Kitchen is run primarily by volunteers to help support the kitchen’s meals for those in need of a hot meal. Volunteers can visit the for more information on volunteering.

The House of Friendship is looking for volunteers for their food hamper program to either deliver hampers from Dec 10th to 18th or help out at the Turkey Trucks to accept donations. Contact House of Friendship for more details.

...Packing and Delivering Toys

Stuffin’ Stockings is looking for volunteers to assemble and sort stockings filled with toys, transport them to different locations, promote Stuffin’ Stockings or help out at special events. Visit the Stuffin' Stockings site for more information.

Food Donations

Good food to eat and a nice holiday meal with family or friends is an important part of any celebration during the holiday season. There are many organizations that collect funds and give out hampers around the holidays that need help with food donations or sorting hampers.

...Food Hampers & Drives

The Rotary Club holds an annual Turkey Drive- a $20 donation will buy a turkey and a $100 donation will feed a family of four this holiday season. Donations are accepted until December 21st. Information about how to donate is located here

The House of Friendship is always looking for donations to their food hamper programs. For a list of high demand food items and where to drop them off, visit the House of Friendship emergency food site

The Roberts Christmas Drive accepts donations of turkeys for needy families with more information on their site.

...Food Banks

The Cambridge Food Bank always accepts food items in support of their food hamper programs and food cooperative on the Donation page or through the Salvation Army Community and Family Services Cambridge

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region accepts both perishable and non-perishable donations in support of their many food programs and services. Visit the Food Bank site for information on how to donate.

Gifts in Kind

Many agencies and community organizations keep yearly or seasonal wish lists of products and items that will help their clients in their daily lives or help the agency to run more smoothly. Donations of new and used items such as toys, toiletries and other products can really brighten the day of women, children and families who have limited budgets or who will be spending their holiday season in a shelter or away from home. Not to mention that glorious feeling of cleaning out some space in the house before the New Year!

ROOF (Reaching our Outdoor Friends) maintains a wish list of items that they can use for the homeless youth that use their services and participate in their programs. See the
ROOF Wishlist here.

Mary’s Place, an emergency shelter for women and families, also keeps a general wish list in support of the women, children and teens using their programs. See the
Mary's Place wish list here.

Saint Monica House, a community that provides supportive housing, counseling and on-site education pregnant teens and their children, has a holiday needs List to help support everyday need and gifts for the women at their centre. Check the
Christmas Needs List for specific needs this holiday season.

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region’s holiday wish list supports women and children using their shelters or participating in their Outreach programs such as infant supplies, Ipods clothing and toys. Visit the Holiday Wish List for more specific ideas.

Argus Residence for Young People is always looking for things like towels, alarm clocks and school supplies in support of their programs for homeless youth. Visit the Donations and Wishlist here.

Local community Group WR awesome has a goal of collecting 5000 pairs of socks this season to donate to local community organizations. Check out their Facebook Page for more information, or connect with them on Twitter using the hashtag #5kSoxWR

Lutherwood’s Safe haven Shelter is always in need of donations of comforters, personal hygiene items, knitted items and teddy bears in support of their mental health shelter and youth shelter. For specific items needed, view the Ways to Give List on the Lutherwood site for more information.

The Wish Tree, a program run by The Salvation Army Community Health Services (Cambridge/North Dumfries) lets donors pick a tag from a tree and buy clothing, toys or other items based on the age of the child on the tag. Toys and clothes are then returned to the drop off along with the tag.
44 Main St, Cambridge, ON N1R 1V4
Phone (519) 623-1221 (admin)
Salvation Army Website

The Salvation Army Community and Family Services accepts donations of toys towards their toy giving programs (Kitchener-Waterloo)
300 Gage Ave, Unit 1, Kitchener N2M 2C8
Phone: 519 745-4215
Salvation Army Website

The Tree of Angels – visit the Tree of Angels to pick an angel card for a specific child. Buy toys or other gifts and then return them to the Tree of Angels along with the card.
Visit the Tree in the Conestoga Mall during mall hours:
550 King St N, Waterloo
Phone: 519 886-5500 (mall office) Office Hours: 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Salvation Army Website

Stuffin’ Stockings accepts donations of stockings filled with toys and small gifts to distribute to local charities throughout the holiday season. The charities in turn give out the stockings to their in need families and individuals. Visit the Stuffin' Stockings website for more information.

What better way to help a family in need around the holidays than by adopting them? Family and Children’s Services Waterloo runs a yearly Adopt a Family program where donors are matched with a family and given their holiday list to shop for presents and clothes for the whole family. Find out more about
Tree of Hope - Adopt a Family here.

Monetary Donations

Donations of cash or other financial donations are the backbone of any charity or program offered by an agency, and any little bit helps. Make sure to exercise caution when donating money by ensuring that the charity who’s asking you for donations is a registered charity. This article from Charity Navigator offers some helpful tips for staying safe and making the most of your donation dollars. The Canadian Revenue Agency also keeps a searchable database of all registered charities in Canada. Also, remember that donations made before December 31st can be claimed as charitable donations on this year’s taxes. You can also contact the Community Information Centre of Waterloo Region to find out if the organization does provide services to the local community – 519-579-3800.

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region is always in need of to support their many programs and services to help women who have been abused or who are in crisis. Click here for information on
donating to Women's Crisis Services

The Working Centre has a new online donations form that makes it easy to direct your donations towards the area of your choice (i.e. St John’s Kitchen, The Working Centre or Community Tools projects) or simply the area most in need. Click here for information on making a donation to the Working Centre

The Working Centre can also provide you with a tabletop tree, gift cards, forms and tax receipts to start a gift tree fundraiser at your school or office, where classmates or coworkers can pledge monetary donations. Visit the Working Centre site for Gift Tree Fundraiser Information

The Tree of Hope is another great initiative. Stop in at participating locations around the region such as A&W, Sobeys or Price Chopper to buy your $2 card in support of Deck the Walls, which supports the CHYM FM Tree of Hope Campaign benefiting Family and Children's Services Foundation. Money raised during the Tree of Hope supports scholarships, summer camp experiences and more. Visit the Family and Children Services website for locations and more Tree of Hope Deck the Walls Information

The Sertoma Christmas Miracle has been running this Christmas miracle campaign for the past 36 years, to ensure that underprivileged children wake up to something they wished for on Christmas morning. The Miracle accepts donations towards buying children a gift off their Christmas list. Information on how to get involved is available on the Sertoma Christmas Miracle website

After the Holiday Season is Over

While volunteers are appreciated around the holiday season, all organizations that help people in need are in need of volunteers year-round. Some organizations even require volunteers to attend training sessions and make a specific time commitment to their organization (often 8- 12 months) in order to help support their clients with familiar faces.

Ray of Hope is a non profit organization that offers programming to help those who are marginalized in the community. They offer many opportunities for volunteering such as helping with food hampers, serving meals, administration, driving, shopping, dish washing or teaching art. They also accept both adult and youth volunteers. Visit the Ray of Hope site for information on
volunteering with Ray of Hope

ROOF (Reaching our Outdoor Friends) –– ROOF is always in need of volunteers to work with homeless youth in support of their 24/7 programming. Volunteers are needed in areas such as help with drop-ins, crisis support, food hampers and recreation. Check here for information on
Volunteering with ROOF

The Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo lists hundreds of volunteer positions – visit the Volunteer database to find the right volunteer position for you!

Community Support Connections is charged with providing dignity and support to community members, through programs such as Meals on Wheels. Volunteers are needed for tasks such as delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, driving seniors to appointments or to act as Friendly Visitors for the socially isolated. Check out the Community Support Connections website for a full list of volunteer opportunities.

Out of the Cold is a daily shelter program that is held at various churches in Kitchener Waterloo. Meals, shelter and various programming are provided at each location. The program runs from November to April and has many different types of volunteer positions available, including food prep, dishwashers, door and overnight crew. Volunteer Training sessions usually happen yearly in September/ October for the season. More information can be found at the Out of the Cold website.

SHOW (Supportive Housing Waterloo) are always looking for volunteers or board members in support of their supportive housing programs that emphasize finding shelter for those who have been homeless or are classified as “hard to house". Find more information, visit the SHOW website

Lutherwood has volunteer opportunities helping with employment programs, working with children or with seniors or assisting with the delivery of their mental health and shelter programs at various locations in the Kitchener Waterloo Region. Visit the Lutherwood website for volunteer opportunities.

The Kitchener Downtown Community Centre has many opportunities to serve on advisory committees, participate in working groups or provide peer support in support of their aim to provide different services and community building related to increasing health. For specific volunteer opportunities, visit the
Kitchener Downtown Community Centre website.

Family and Children’s Services relies on volunteers to help with activities such as child care, driving and administrative support in support of their work to support and assist families and children. Visit the
Family and Children's Services website for more information on how to get involved.

Saint Monica House is always looking for Child Care, Life skills, Tutoring and office Support volunteers in support of their programming for teen mothers, their children and their families. Volunteer information can be found on the
Saint Monica House website

More Information

Contact the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area if you want to find opportunities for volunteering.
• 151 Frederick St, Ste 300, Kitchener N2H 2M2
• Phone - 742-8610 Fax 742-0559
• Email -
Volunteer Centre website

The resource counsellors at the Community Information Centre of Waterloo Region can help you find the information you’re looking for Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
• Call the Community InfoLine: 519-579-3800, Toll Free 1-877-579-3859
• Drop in to the Community Resource Centre, 3rd Floor, 151 Frederick St., Kitchener
• Email: • Fax: 519-578-91852

Community Information Centre Waterloo Region / Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo