Many ways to give this holiday season: Learning from others

When I was approached to take part in the 12 Days of Wine Country Ontario contest, I was excited to share my experience with wine tourism opportunities in Ontario and what made them so special. I was also excited to provide some holiday joy to one lucky winner in exchange for learning about the charities my readers elected to support.

While Shannon K. is the random lucky winner of $100 gift card to Stratus Wines courtesy of Wine Country Ontario (Disclosure: I put all the names into a spreadsheet and used an online random number generator to pick the winner) I feel like I also came out on top thanks to the great stories that were shared on my blog post.

In an effort to highlight some worthy causes this holiday season, here is a completion of some of the comments from my previous blog post. These comments explain where and why readers are donating their time and money:

SHANNON – “During the school year I volunteer with the Breakfast Program every Tuesday morning. With a team of five boys in grade 7-9, we prepare a nutritious breakfast for all of the students to enjoy. Spending my time with them makes my week. I urge everyone reading the comments to go out into the community and spend time with others. Give back by getting off your butt!”

COLLEEN – “My charity of choice isn’t exactly a charity. I am a volunteer moderator for Freecycle. I have been for 7+ years. I feel strongly about leaving the earth a better place and Freecycle keeps stuff out of landfill by diverting it to people who want/need it. At this time of the year, I go through my house and find new items that I never used and I post it on Freecycle so that members who can’t afford to buy gifts will still have a Christmas gift. Last year I provided gifts for an entire family when they lost their home to a fire two days before Christmas. It’s been a lot of work over the years, but it is so worthwhile. You can learn more at”

ROBYN – “This holiday season we chose to donate to WWF Canada. I have young siblings (8, 6 and 4) and wanted to be able to contribute to a charity in a way that they could get involved. The money donated goes towards helping protect wildlife and endangered species. For each donation we made, WWF Canada sent us an “adoption” certificate in each child’s name, as well as a booklet containing information about the animal that they were helping to protect. It’s a great way to get kids involved and help them understand how they can help their planet from a young age. They loved learned about the animals and their habitats and I felt good that we all were able to contribute to a great cause.”

CHRISTINA – “The most significant and unusual donation will be a scholarship for mature students in memory of a family member given as a Christmas gift within my family.”

CANDACE – “The charity I’m most involved with is the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia-Lambton. Every year I donate a gift for their client Christmas party and I donate my time year round as a member of the board and PR committee.”

HOWARD – “I work in the wonderful world of retail, so I don’t have a tonne of cash for charities. However, every year we have employee appreciation day at work and I load up on inexpensive kids books which I bring to the toy mountain box in the mall and make a donation. While I hate the holidays, I think every kid should get some type of book.”

JACQUIE – “Second Harvest is my charity for the holidays. Appreciate that they are providing two meals for every $1 raised and love that Second Harvest is collecting and distributing food that would otherwise go to landfill.”

WAYNE – “We sponsor a child in Tanzania through World Vision, and every year we buy his village something different. Last year we purchased sports equipment for the local school, and this year we are contributing to the installation of a new water pump. We receive several letters from our sponsored child every year, and it’s amazing to see how far these gifts go!”

GENEVIEVE – “I donate to ShareLife — they are an umbrella charity that meet diverse needs of diverse people of any faith.”

ALISON – “I plan to donate to United Way.”

What a great assortment of ways to give back to our society. I was able to relate to some of the causes – like the breakfast program, which I participated in when I worked for the Toronto Argonauts. We used to visit the same school each week and serve a hot breakfast to students in need.

It was also neat to learn about an organization like Freecycle thanks to Colleen. This was the first time I had heard of Freecycle, but it aligns with the views on sustainability that I have been exposed to this year from several coworkers in my new job. I plan to do some more research in the new year.

What also struck me is the unique ways that people give back. Christina’s example of providing a scholarship for a mature student to Wayne’s example of providing for students in a village in Tanzania to Howard’s collection of books in the mall all stood out.

Regardless of how you choose to make a difference in this world, it is the effort that matters. What this exercise showed me is that there are lots of caring people out there who are making a difference for the people in their community who are in need. Congrats!!

Thanks to Wine Country Ontario and Stratus Wines for making this possible. Have a happy and healthy holiday season and thanks for reading my blog.

About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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