BY MARISSA CUDDY
Christmas isn’t just about getting presents, it is about spending time with family and giving back to others in need. There are many organizations in and around Kitchener looking for donations this month and next. Giving back doesn’t just mean donating – there are lots of other things people can do like open a door for a stranger, help someone across the road, smile or volunteer somewhere.
Many of the places accept donations year-round, but they promote it more around Christmas. However, some local events are specifically held during the Christmas season including Operation Christmas Child, Stuff-A-Bus, Loblaw Companies National Food Drive – Winter 2015, and Coats for Kids.
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region receives the donations from the Stuff-A-Bus event at the Laurentian Power Centre Zehrs and Loblaw Companies National Food Drive event located at all local Real Canadian Superstores, Zehrs, No Frills and Valu-Marts in the area.
“We are a 100 per cent non-government-funded charity; all of our food and funds come from the community,” said Marlene Matthews, an administrative assistant at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. “Food is a basic need that everyone can identify with and understand. The food bank is a trusted charity with a reputation for innovation, collaboration and efficiency.”
The organization provides people in need with a variety of fresh, frozen and non-perishable foods that are donated by the community. Matthews said about five per cent of Waterloo Region receives food support.
Another organization looking for donations this time of year is West 49. By donating to the company’s Coats for Kids campaign, West 49 gives you $50 off any winter jacket in their store. The donated coats go to local charities such as The Salvation Army, The Boys and Girls Club, United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Each store chooses one charity within their community. With the purchase of any Yea.Nice beanie from West 49, a donation of a beanie will be made to a homeless shelter on your behalf. The beanies are a collaboration between Yea.Nice and West 49 called BEANIES 4 LIFE.
“West 49 started doing this to help give back to the community, and to help those who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to buy warm jackets,” said Laura Borcsok, the marketing co-ordinator at West 49. “It also benefits the customer since they get a new jacket and they can also help someone who isn’t able to buy a new jacket for the wintertime.”
Operation Christmas Child is another program that many places, such as churches, get involved in. The organization provides the churches with shoe boxes to fill with toys and other items for children and then sends them to a Third World country. Their mission is to give presents to children who normally don’t get anything at Christmas. The donation week was Nov. 15 to 22, but you can still donate online.
“Some families don’t have the ability to be together during the holidays and generosity from the community gives them the feeling of connectedness,” said Jeff Scherer, president of Conestoga Students Inc.
Conestoga College also has a few ways to give back. One of them was CSI’s Textbooks for Change, where students donated their old textbooks which are then sent to Africa. They also have the Christmas Wish Tree. Students can donate a new present that isn’t wrapped until Dec. 4. The presents will go to children of Conestoga students. Presents from sponsors will be accepted in the CSI main office.
On CSI’s website they say they hope to ensure “every child has a present under the tree.”
“I like to believe that the holiday season is a season of sharing and an opportunity for those who want to give back to others that may be less fortunate,” Scherer said.