Give the Gift of Yuletide Joy by Giving Back
“Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” Mother Teresa
The holiday season is quickly approaching, a time of love, family, peace and fellowship.
Many of us are stressed about what to buy for our loved ones and what to cook for our festive feasts. However, for far too many people here in Toronto, the holidays will be a time of hunger, loneliness and great struggle.
Homelessness statistics for Toronto (homelesshub.ca)
People estimated to be (#):
- Living on the streets 447
- Staying in city-administered shelters: 3,970
- Total estimated homeless population: 5,219 (2013)
These statistics are just a snapshot into a piece of the poverty pie, and what is becoming very apparent is that the face of hunger has no limits. There are also several Torontonians living below the poverty line, families who are increasingly visiting food banks because they can’t afford to put food on the table and want to keep their homes.
According to the Daily Bread Food Bank’s report: “Who’s Hungry a Tale of Two Cities 2015 Profile of Hunger in Toronto,” since the recession, people are having a harder time climbing out of poverty. Since 2008, the average length of time coming to a food bank has doubled from 1 year to 2 years. Also, the geographic distribution of food bank visits has changed drastically.
The inner suburbs (Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough) have seen a 45 per cent increase, while the city core (Toronto, East York and York) has seen a 16 per cent decrease during the same period. Overall, demand across the city is 12 per cent higher than 2008. Seven years after the recession, Toronto residents still struggle with precarious work, eroding social assistance rates, and rapidly rising costs of living.
To read the full report click here.
How I can help?
The hunger issue may seem hopeless but it’s not. We may ask ourselves – what can my small contribution really do? Rest assured every donation counts. There are countless ways to give back, every little way helps. You can donate money, food, clothing or your invaluable time.
Here are a just a few credible agencies making a difference across the city that you may be interested in supporting this holiday season.
The Daily Bread Food Bank
The Daily Bread Food Bank is a registered charity that is fighting hunger in our communities. A distribution hub, Daily Bread provides food and support to almost 200 food programs across Toronto and is the largest provider of food relief in the GTA.
Good Shepherd Ministries
The Good Shepherd is a drop in centre serving homeless women and men in Toronto. They offer hot meals, clothes, a warm place to sleep and several programs to help the homeless get back on their feet. It’s a place to take refuge from the harsh streets and a hope for a better tomorrow.
Covenant House is Canada’s largest youth agency that assists homeless youth from the ages of 16-24. It provides 24/7 on-site crisis shelter and transitional housing along with comprehensive community services including education, counselling, health care, employment assistance, job training and aftercare.
Your donations will make a world of difference in the lives of people needing a helping hand. It could be your kind gesture that changes someone’s life forever. Remember it’s the little ways that have the biggest impact.
It is my hope that I have inspired you this holiday season to participate in one of these great causes. I am sure many of you are already providing a helping hand – the spirit of giving is contagious! So please find it in your heart to spread some cheer to those less fortunate this time of year.
Tell us how you like to give back?
Laura Iamundo, CNP Certified Holistic Nutritionist