The holiday season is soon upon us and gift-giving is probably already on your mind. Sometimes, the best gift is giving to those in need. This holiday season, look into your community to see if there’s an event you can volunteer at or an organization you can donate to. Here’s a list to start you off on your search for organizations to give back to in London.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of London
Big Brothers Big Sisters of London is an organization that provides mentoring services to young people and families throughout London and the surrounding area. Donations are always accepted to assist in providing underprivileged youth better living conditions. However, BBBS also organizes fundraising events like their Bowl for Kids Sake “fun”-raiser where people are invited to get together and have a fun time bowling to support mentoring programs in their communities. There’s also an opportunity for you or your community to organize your own events to benefit the organization. Any help you can give is always appreciated and accepted.
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Humane Society London & Middlesex
With the winter months approaching, that means so is the cold. The London & Middlesex Humane Society is dedicated to providing shelter to abandoned, surrendered, and neglected animals to make sure they’re not left in the cold. If you want to support this organization that cares for furry friends, there’s the option to sponsor a kennel or donate food, collars or other animal health supplies. They also have volunteer opportunities which make for a fun way to donate your time and make a difference. Grab a couple friends or family members and make a day of it at the Humane Society’s many events throughout the year or at the shelter.
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London Food Bank
The holidays are a time for spending time with friends and family and eating food made with love. But not everyone can afford to feed their loved ones during the holidays, and that’s where the London Food Bank comes in. Not only do they distribute food to over 8500 families who require assistance per month, but they also help more than 25 groups and agencies who provide assistance to those struggling outside of London. The food bank is always accepting donations of perishable and non-perishable food donations to provide their clients with foods that support a healthy diet. They also encourage community members to help out at their warehouse during the week or on Saturdays to sort donations. Make it a fun work event by organizing a group to give back this holiday season.
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Meet the difference that volunteers make! Huge thanks to Claire and her fellow Brownies for handing out bags at a grocery store yesterday. The girls had fun and even the shy ones wanted to take turns asking shoppers to buy some food items for donation. The bin was being emptied as they arrived for their shift, so the girls really got to see how much they encouraged to be donated. This overflowing bin is thanks to their efforts! #LdnOnt #FoodBank #volunteer
United Way Elgin Middlesex
The United Way is the largest non-government funder of social services in London, Elgin, and Middlesex counties and contributes to improving the quality of life in our communities by bringing together research, experts, and resources to invest in the most needed programs. Any type of monetary donation is accepted as well as volunteering with your community, workplace, friends, and families. The most important thing for United Way is that every contribution stays in the community to support local — so you know that your donation is helping those in the London area.
Thames Valley Children’s Centre
The Thames Valley Children’s Centre offers services that support a range of special needs including physical disability, communication disorders, developmental delays, and autism spectrum disorders. They provide information, education, and support to children and their families to build strong, supportive relationships and environments. Donations to the TVCC go to support the range of services that help these children live a life with support and recognition in their community. Another great way to show your support is to become a volunteer with TVCC and show that your community is dedicated to building an inclusive place for everyone!
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The 519 Pursuit is a local London organization that focuses on helping the homeless. By taking the 519Pledge, individuals, businesses, organizations, sports teams, and anyone else who feels inspired to participate commits to collecting 519 pairs of socks to donate. It’s an important way to bring homelessness into conversations and start a dialogue about what it means for others. While donating socks is the main focus for this organization, any clothing is accepted for care packages. The winter months are especially harsh on those without shelter, and every donation helps.
The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest social services agencies that is committed to helping disadvantaged people by providing housing and shelters, food services, social services, and so much more. There are so many opportunities to volunteer with the Salvation Army, like helping out as a community outreach volunteer in the shelters, food banks or warehouses. Or, volunteering at special events throughout the year. There’s always the option to donate clothing or household items as well as any amount of money to help the people who need it most in your community.
Mission Services of London
Mission Services of London is grounded in the Christian faith tradition and belief system but it welcomes people from all faith backgrounds. Their mission is to actively respond to people experiencing need, affirm human dignity and inspire hope by providing community mental health programs, women’s shelters, and emergency shelters for homeless men. Donations are always accepted but Mission Services also has events, like the upcoming Scan Away Hunger event, running through November and December, where shoppers at participating grocery stores are able to donate $3.11 (the basic cost of a meal) or multiples thereof to donate meals to the less fortunate. Volunteer opportunities are always available if you and your family would like to donate your time together to help out people in the community.
Community Services Coordination Network
Lastly, here’s a favourite of mine: The Community Services Coordination Network (CSCN) is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services that works with families to coordinate access to various services and supports for children and adolescents who have complex needs. They perform this function across a five-county catchment area that includes: London-Middlesex, Elgin, Huron, Oxford and Perth Counties. Over several years, CSCN has identified local families in need, looked through their Christmas wish-lists, and paired up anonymous donations from those of us in the community looking to give back. Think about including CSCN on your giving list this year. You’d be amazed what true and basic needs many families in our community actually have.