Holiday Gift Guide: Support Toronto charities this season
The perfect gifts for the people in your life who are passionate about supporting their community
By Julia Mastroianni
Nov 23, 2020
Gift giving is a little different this year thanks to COVID-19. Though shopping in-person and holiday gatherings won’t be possible in Toronto and Peel Region, you can still show your family and friends that you’re thinking of them by donating to charities on their behalf – or buying from a company that is donating proceeds to a cause.
Supporting Toronto charities is a great way to give back during a year that has been a little more challenging for all types of communities across the city and country.
Donating food is great, but money can sometimes be stretched much further by food bank workers. The Daily Bread Food Bank offers donation-based gifts of multiple sizes to send to your loved one who is passionate about food security. Some of the options include feeding a family for $25, urgent meals for those in crisis for $40, or even hamper boxes for six families for $150. You can even send an e-card letting your loved one know the gift you’ve chosen on their behalf.
In a triple-layered collaboration between Canadian-owned sister hotels Matachica Resort and GAÏA Riverlodge in Belize, Montréal illustrator Cécile Gariépy and Toronto-based sustainable fashion brand Kotn, they’re launching The World Can campaign to support hotel staff impacted by COVID-19. The campaign involves three t-shirts designed by Gariépy and produced by Kotn, and all proceeds from the t-shirt sales will supplement the income of hotel staff that need additional support to provide food, shelter and education for their families. Purchase a t-shirt for family and friends this holiday season and help directly support families impacted by the pandemic.
The Shoebox Project provides gift-filled shoeboxes to women experiencing homelessness across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Due to COVID-19, physical shoebox donations aren’t being accepted, but you can build and donate a virtual shoebox instead. The website allows you to build the “box” online, including wrapping paper, two essential items like deodorant and face masks, a seasonal item like a scarf or socks, two gifts such as makeup or a journal and a gift card of choice. You can even attach a personalized note or card for the person who will be receiving your box! Donate one to spread the holiday cheer to those in need or on behalf of a friend.
This is the perfect gift for your animal-loving friends. The Toronto Humane Society works with strays, facilitates adoptions and offers training and wellness services. All donations are appreciated, and the society offers in-honour gift options that are perfect for the holiday season.
This organization provides support to low-income students across Canada facing barriers in finishing their high school education. They provide tutoring, mentoring, a student plan, financial and social support. If you have any teachers or educators in your life, a donation on their behalf might be the perfect gift!
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that also has a positive impact, Kiehl’s is donating $5 from each sale of their Ultimate Strength Hand Salve in Canada to the Foundation of Stars. The foundation raises money for research into children’s diseases, and is considered the largest non-government funding source for research on childhood diseases. This gift is the perfect one for cold Canadian winters while also supporting an important research initiative.
Many families in Toronto and across Canada have had their lives permanently changed through the support provided by SickKids. If you know one of those families, or even if you don’t, donate on their behalf this holiday season. SickKids offers holiday-specific gifts that you can send with a personalized card to your loved one. You can give the gift of everything from holiday baking supplies to music therapy to a wish gift list for a current hospital patient.
Sistering is a local organization that provides support for at-risk women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. They run a 24/7 drop in program and offer housing support, harm reduction, peer outreach and employment support. Your donation will directly provide meals, harm reduction kits and personal hygiene and clothing to women in Toronto.
Since the launch of the collection in 2017, Tiffany & Co. has donated 100 per cent of profits from the Save the Wild collection to the Wildlife Conservation Network. Offering a selection of brooches, charms and desk accessories, these gifts are ideal for animal-loving friends and family. Money donated will go towards supporting the Elephant Crisis Fund, Lion Recovery Fund and Rhino Recovery Fund.
Maggie’s Toronto is one of the country’s oldest sex worker support organizations. It’s by and for sex workers and receives government funding. Donate on behalf of your friends this season; you can even choose to direct your donation to their emergency support fund for Black sex workers.
FoodShare is a Toronto organization that provides fresh and healthy produce to people in the city experiencing food insecurity. It also funds and supports workshops and education for students and those interested in beginning their own community gardens. In response to COVID-19, FoodShare has been directly providing emergency food boxes to folks experiencing heightened food insecurity due to the pandemic. Donate on behalf of your friends and loved ones who are passionate about Toronto’s food crisis!
Do you have any particularly dramatic friends who are passionate about the arts? Donating to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre might be the perfect gift for them this season. This theatre is known best for its alternative and progressive theatre and is committed to supporting queer content and creators. You can even choose the specific campaign you want to fund, such as education and training for queer artists or building inclusive and accessible queer spaces.
Julia Mastroianni’s first attempt at writing resulted in the first 20 pages of a novel that she promptly abandoned, a year after starting, at age nine, because she couldn't bear to read her own work. Since then, she’s completed assignments at various publications, including Post City Magazines and the National Post.