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Opinion: Giving to help others is a powerful act

As GivingTuesday approaches, here are several ways you can donate your time, money or talents

GivingTuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering.

This year Canada will hold its ninth annual GivingTuesday on Nov. 30. I truly believe everyone can give and there are so many ways to get involved with giving and volunteering.

But what does it mean to give? At its most basic definition, giving means to freely transfer the possession of something to someone. But to me that doesn't truly speak to what it means to give.

To me, giving speaks to caring, support, and to that innate human desire to want to help one another. The act of giving back can also be an expression of someone’s values, supporting what they truly care about and the changes they want to see in the world.

In recent years, there has been such a need for support. So many individuals, families, industries, and communities have needed help. And that can be tough to witness, and it can be tough to know what to do and how to help.

But here is the good news: every day I have the privilege of witnessing the act of giving in action, both the joy of seeing someone give and the direct impact of those gifts received.

I wanted to share some of the different ways you can give. Everyone has something to give. Yes, even if you don't have a cent or an hour to spare right now, you can still make a difference.

The gift of time

Volunteers are the heart of our communities. If you have time, there are all kinds of organizations that would be thrilled to have you. You don't need a special skill or expertise. No matter your age or skill level, there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you.

Advocacy work is another example of giving time. A shared tweet, a signed petition, or attending a community forum can help a cause propel its mission or reach new supporters.

Don't forget about reaching out to your elected officials. They have the power to change policy which can have a huge impact. They want to know what matters to their constituents. Sharing what is important to you can help direct government funds to the issues that matter to you and could result in governments passing crucial policies to help your community.

The gift of treasure

Maybe you don't have the time to volunteer right now, or maybe the times we are living in make volunteering a challenge. There is another way to give. You may find that you have a bit extra in your budget or may have a hidden treasure that you didn't know could be helpful.

Monetary donations are always welcome by non-profits, and yes, even the small donations help. Monthly giving can provide consistent cash flow to an organization. A small donation, whether it be bi-weekly or monthly, can be easier on the wallet, but really add up over a year.

Consider donating in someone's memory or in their honour, for a special occasion. Finding out their favourite cause is a unique and special way to show them that you care about them and what matters to them.
Legacy giving is a way for you to make a lasting impact on the world, by providing for your loved ones and the causes that matter most to you. Even a small percentage of your estate can make a big difference to the causes you care about, and it is easy to include your favourite charity in your will.

Do you have an idle car, did you buy too much peanut butter, or have you been collecting hotel soaps for years? You can make space in your place and help others. Donating gifts-in-kind, or non-money items, fills real needs for many non-profits and can be a cost-effective way to support an organization.

We have only scratched the surface of all the different ways that you can give. No matter what your values are, what has impacted your life, or what is important to you, there is a non-profit out there looking for support. Here are a few of my local favourites:

Covenant House Vancouver

Yes, I do work there so of course, it was making the list. Our purpose is to serve all youth with absolute respect and unconditional love, to help youth experiencing homelessness, and to protect and safeguard all youth in need.

North Shore Women's Centre

The North Shore Women’s Centre is dedicated to improving the social, economic, legal and political status of women, and encourages and supports self-empowerment by acting as a resource and a catalyst for change,

Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Their mission is to provide healthy food to those in need and their vision is healthy communities through fair and effective food systems. The cost of living is getting higher, and more people are relying on food banks.

North Shore Rescue

A volunteer community-based search and rescue team providing a life-saving service to the public, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Public library foundations

Libraries are free places for everyone to discover, create, and share ideas and information. Libraries provide so much for communities beyond access to books and other important resources. They provide warmth and safety for those experiencing homelessness, a connection for a new mom, or access to community support for a senior.

North Shore Community Resources

North Shore Community Resources is dedicated to individual and community well-being through facilitating social connections, empowerment and community participation.

I hope that you feel empowered to give and I hope that you feel like your gifts matter, because they do. I see their impact daily. I truly believe that every gift and every act of giving makes a difference. Every positive act contributes to healthier communities and to a better world. Happy giving!

Kristy Hayter is a 20-plus year non-profit worker and the director of communications and marketing at Covenant House Vancouver. This column will be included in the Connecting With Charities print feature section of the North Shore News on Nov. 17, 2021.