I don't know about you, but when the holiday's roll around I reminisce on the year; what I've learned, my mistakes, my triumphs, I think about what I'm proud of, what I'm thankful for, and from there, I make my new years resolutions. The older I get, as soon as I start thinking about the year, my progress and my goals, I automatically think about how lucky I am. How, that no matter what, I will always have the following: amazing family, great friends, a roof over my head and food on the table. What snaps in me every day, especially during Christmas, is that so many people in our own city don't have these things, especially the later. If you know my family and I, you know that we haven't been doing Christmas gifts for over 5 years now. We all reached an age when we didn't see the point. Why go out and purchase gifts for one another, just because that's 'what you do' during Christmas? Chances are, if one of us needs something, we just buy it during the year. Thats why we opt for the following: absolutely, positively no gifts, lots of indulgent food, laughs and a strict no-phone policy during dinner and holiday parties. That, and we donate and/or volunteer to local charities in Calgary. Here are a list of charities in Calgary that are in need this time of year, all are wonderful and serve to help so many people in need.
1. The Magic of Christmas: Every Christmas Eve, The Magic of Christmas loads up Calgary Transit buses, magically transformed into “reindeer buses,” with hundreds of gifts and volunteers dressed as Santa and his elves. Then, they do what they do best—deliver Christmas spirit into the homes and hearts of those who need it most. There are many donation boxes available throughout the city, and find the closest one to you here.
More information here
2. Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids: Their mission: to connect and inspire people to take meaningful action to feed and care for kids. Every day, 4,400 kids in our city go to school without the food they need. Your donation provides energy to run and play, to focus and listen, to learn and make friends. Your gift will allow a child to live up to their potential. You will change their day and help change their life.
More information here.
3. Calgary Dream Centre:
The Calgary Dream Centre is a faith-based recovery organization working to change the lives of those most vulnerable in our city. Their holistic process of transformation helps individuals to escape the cycle of homelessness and addiction. They are committed to meeting individuals where they are and providing them with the tools necessary to move forward into strong, healthy lives. They believe in a multi-phased process of recovery, with each phase solidifying the tools and strategies learned in the last. The three phases of their process include: addiction recovery, transitional housing, and long term affordable housing. The Calgary Dream Centre's ultimate goal is for them to reconnect to their families and become productive, contributing members of society. More information here.
4. Calgary Food Bank:
The Calgary Food Bank is the first line of emergency food support for families and individuals facing crisis. Once the food emergency is addressed, they refer food bank clients to their proven partner agencies and programs. Their deep collaboration and food support to hundreds of other charitable organizations that address the root causes of food insecurity aligns with their mission to work with our community to fight hunger. The Calgary Food Bank is the most accessible food bank in Calgary serving families, individuals and organizations. They are not a government or United Way agency and rely solely on the generous support of the community. More information here.
5. Calgary Women’s Centre:
The Women’s Centre provides a safe and supportive space accessed by thousands of women in Calgary. They offer women opportunities to both receive and provide support, connect with others and build community through a variety of programs. While the Women’s Centre is open to all women, 52% of the women who access our services and volunteer their time are living in poverty.
Your donation funds their community-capacity building programs, emergency basic need assistance and mobilizes women to learn about pressing social issues in our communities. More information here.
6. The Drop-In Centre:
In our community on any given night, nearly 3,000 people need shelter; the reasons why are just as numerous. For more than 55 years, Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (the DI) has delivered emergency shelter, health services, community resources and housing supports, to people either experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Your donation to the Calgary Drop-In Centre provides crucially needed programs and services for Calgarians experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty. From food and shelter, to counselling, education, employment, and affordable housing — your support lifts people up, and helps lives begin.
More information here.
7. EvenStart for Children Foundation of Calgary:
EvenStart believes that when a child is fed, in good health, has access to eduction, lives in a home that is safe, where parents are assisted in developing skills that allow them to generate a livable income, then the children learn that they are valued and are free to realize their potential. At EvenStart, Christmas hampers are supplied to over 150 families in need every holiday season. These hampers go to families they know well, for they belong to the children who are registered in their education and treatment programs. More information here.
8. Inn from the Cold:
Inn from the Cold provides shelter, sanctuary and healing to assist homeless children and their families achieve independence. Since 2018, they have provided care to over 500 children experiencing homelessness. They create a community where no child is homeless, and with collective action, they can ensure they are creating a lasting impact on children and their families. More information here.
9. Meals on Wheels:
Food is a basic need, a life necessity. What we eat or don’t eat affects our mental, emotional and physical well-being. There is a significant population in our city who, for various reasons, are not able to tend to their basic daily nutrition. Calgary Meals on Wheels is proud to provide programs that directly target the issues of poverty, and hunger. More information here.
10. The Mustard Seed:
The Mustard Seed has been serving people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Alberta since the ‘80s. It has become a haven for those needing help, which is offered through open hands with unconditional love. During the holiday season, you can donate to provide a warm meal and refuge from the cold to a homeless neighbour. More information here.
11. The Calgary Shoebox Project: The Shoebox Project for Women, supported by Dream, collects and distributes gift-filled Shoeboxes to women impacted by homelessness in communities across Canada and the US. Each thoughtfully created and decorated Shoebox is filled with items valued at $50 that can enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation for women in need. Not sure how to start? Here is more information and here is information for drop-off locations.
More information here.
Of course, there are countless charities in Calgary and the surrounding area. All of which are invaluable to so many. Happy Giving!