As we approach the holidays and make plans to spend time and money with our loved ones we are reminded of those who aren’t as fortunate to experience the same. Here is a shortlist of charities who rely on volunteers and donations to ensure they don’t get left behind this season.

Whatever your forte is, there is likely an organization who can benefit from your skills and passion. Here are just a few examples of some opportunities to give back to the community during the merriest of seasons.

 

COMMUNITY CARE

This organization has many different programs including food and shelter to emergency services.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  1. By donating food or organizing your own food drive
  2. Adopt an Angel: toys and stocking stuffers are collected for children, from babies to 12 years of age.
  3. Adopt a teen or senior angel: backpacks or bags on wheels are filled with necessities.
  4. Keep someone warm: donate hats, gloves, coats, boots or slippers, and help keep somebody warm.
  5. Adopt a family: your family can adopt a family in need, and help give them a wonderful Christmas.

For information on available programs visit communitycarestca.ca

MEALS ON WHEELS

This non for profit delivers nutritious meals to those in need and helps to foster independence. Recipients of meals are usually elderly, have a chronic sickness, a physical disability, etc.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Volunteer to be a meal delivery driver (maybe even on Christmas eve or day)

Help out in various other capacities as well, such as with fundraising, PR or office work.

More info at www.mealsonwheels.ca

PROJECT SHARE

This organization provides emergency food and support services to residents of Niagara Falls.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

You can “adopt” a family at Christmas time and help them to have a happy Christmas.

More information is available at projectshare.ca.

 

RAFT

A place for at-risk youths in the Niagara Region.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Volunteers are always needed to assist with special events and recreational programs such as their annual Christmas dinner. Check out theraft.ca for more information.

 

START ME UP NIAGARA

Start Me Up Niagara works with individuals facing significant life challenges such as addiction, mental illness, poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: give someone a new start by donating any of the following:

Personal Care Products (deodorant, tampons, razors, shampoo & toothpaste);

Regular Grind Coffee, Powdered Creamer & Sugar

Canned or Fresh fruit & Vegetables

Men’s Coats & Boots

New Men’s Underwear

Gloves, Hats & Scarves

You can also help by making a financial donation or volunteering your time for fundraising, clerical work, office administration, gardening and transportation.

http://startmeupniagara.ca

WOMEN’S PLACE

The mission of Women’s Place of South Niagara is to end abuse and violence by empowering women and their children through the provision of safe shelter, counselling and community partnerships.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: donate some of these much needed items:

Gift Cards

Pyjamas (in women’s and children’s sizes)

Casual wear

Outdoor wear,

Underwear

Socks, Stockings

Baby Onesies

Razors (disposable)

Sanitary Napkins & Tampons

Shampoo

Baby Wipes, Diapers (disposable).

Please note they don’t take any used clothing donations, if you have used clothing to donate, consider donating it to the value village in Niagara Falls or the Goodwill in Welland, as Women’s Place has an agreement with these specific locations which allows their clients to access the items at these places free of charge.

 

VOLUNTEER AT A NURSING HOME

There are many nursing homes throughout the Niagara Region, and many have numerous senior citizens who never get any visitors. Spread some holiday cheer by going and chatting with the residents, or maybe volunteer to organize a social event…who knows what kind of new friends you will make. For a full listing of nursing homes in the Niagara Region, visit niagararegion.ca. Volunteer opportunities are outlined on the website.

 

NIAGARA HEALTH SYSTEM

The NHS is made up of six sites throughout Niagara (in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Welland).

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

There are numerous volunteer positions available at these hospitals, and they assisting with patient and family care, auxiliary membership, fundraising and retail, and information and customer service. Visit niagarahealth.on.ca for more info.

 

HELPING OUR FURRY FRIENDS

If animals are your thing, there are many animal charities that can use donations around the holidays. Donations of various items such as food, cat litter, bedding, bowls, towels and more, are always appreciated by the non-profit animal groups in our area. They are also always looking for assistance with fostering animals, which involves taking care of an animal until a forever home can be found.

 

Some local groups to look into helping are:

Pets Alive Niagara Animal Rescue (facebook.com/petsaliveniagara)

Animal Assistance Society of Niagara (http://awos.petfinder.com/shelters/animalassistance.html)

Port Colborne Feline Initiative (pcferalcats.org)

Community Animal Allies of Niagara (caancatmobile.org)

Welland Humane Society (wellandspca.com)

 

There are countless ways to give back to the community, not just during the holidays, but on a year round basis. A great site to visit to see what organizations are looking for volunteers and the various positions available is informationniagara.com. You can search by organization name, or area of interest.