By Jaclyn Whitelock, Wood’s Homes Foundation Assistant
So often we see headlines about large corporations donating millions to charity or of a wealthy individual leaving their estate to a good cause. Indeed, many organizations including Wood’s Homes, could not do the work they do without the helping hand of those more fortunate. That being said, as Wood’s Homes’ donations administrator, I consider myself lucky to be able to witness first-hand giving of all kinds and I can truly say there are as many ways to give as there are people.
The gift of time:
The gift of time is not something many think of when they are considering ‘giving back’; however, time is often one of the most in-demand donations for non-profits. One of the most generous donors I’ve encountered was a woman who came in and spent hours assisting with tedious paperwork. Another volunteer frequently comes in and performs many hours copy editing for us. In donating their time, these donors have allowed staff to focus on important projects they may have not had time for otherwise.
Not all who donate the gift of time do so within an office environment. This year, we’ve been fortunate to have a number of corporations, including Vermilion Energy and BMO, and small groups ‘give back’ in the form of hands-on work. These groups have completed a variety of hands-on tasks, including creating care packages for our EXIT Youth Shelter, sorting clothing donations, assisting with landscaping and painting, and even building shelves for our staff.
The Santa Project:
Once again, we were lucky to secure enough supporters to offer our annual Santa Project this year. Donors (aka Santas) are matched with families who would not otherwise be able to afford gifts this holiday season, and the donors either purchase gift cards or specific gifts. The gifts are by no means extravagant, but so thoughtful – scented candles for a new mom approaching burnout or shoes for a young child who only has one pair – and are so very appreciated by our clients. As 14-year-old Brandon told us last year, “I’m very grateful for everything that I got, but it’s not all about the presents. It’s nice to see that there’s people that care about others and help others…. And I feel like someone cares about me and I feel like I’m not forgotten about.”
Spreading the word:
Sometimes the most impactful way to support the organizations/causes you believe in is by spreading the word and encouraging others to support. Recently, we received a letter from a mother, which included a cheque for $75. We learned from the letter that the women’s 8-year-old daughter had asked for donations to Wood’s Homes in lieu of birthday gifts. We were very humbled to learn the young girl was willing to forfeit her birthday gifts to give to those she knew were in need.
Alberta continues to face a challenging economy. I have encountered several people who have apologized, saying they are unable to give this year or are not able to give what they have in the past. My message to you is give what you can, when you can and, always remember, every gift – time, resources, dollars or otherwise – is so very appreciated. We could not do the work we do without your support, however small it may seem in the moment.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!