I’m writing this on the morning of Black Friday sales. I’ve been already swept into the frenzy since last night when many of my favourite retailers started offer? for the most exciting sales weekend – much better than Boxing Day, since you can ACTUALLY get stuff you want now for gifts and uh, yourself. It’s not picked-over crap the day after Christmas day, you know what I mean. Anyway, I started searching up Black Friday sales and what pops up on my feed is a campaign for the Yonge Street Mission — they’ve started their Giving Tuesday campaign.

I sat back in my cozy bed sifting through the sales emails and it hit me hard. While we’re all getting ready for the holidays, we can still do our part in doing something for others. Traditionally, Giving Tuesday happens right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. So, now is a good time to consider setting aside some of your holiday budget for a good cause.

Whether it’s making a donation online to your favourite charity or bringing baked cookies to the local retirement home or helping a neighbour rake leaves, it all counts!  In 2016, over 6 million Canadians did something to support their favourite cause for Giving Tuesday. According to a survey carried out in December 2016 for GIV3, 22% of adults in Canada took part in Giving Tuesday activities. Most participants made financial donations (about 3.5 million people), and many millions more volunteered for non-profits.

So, for this Giving Tuesday, you can check out the official site givingtuesday.ca or CanadaHelps.org to discover what charities are out there to support. Lots of local ones in there that you may not have heard of! But do some research too as there are may be opportunities for donations to be matched by corporate leaders.

Here are some charities to consider…

SickKids Hospital Foundation: Recently launched their biggest fundraising campaign ever. SickKidsVs Limits campaign has a goal to raise $1.3 Billion dollars to help build a new hospital. The world-renowned hospital for children opened in 1949 and while extensions of the hospital have been built, the original building is still there that can no longer support the technology and advancements they have, and need, as they’ve literally grown out of the space. By the way, they also have a call out for 5000 monthly donors to help.

Covenant House Toronto: Covenant House is Canada’s largest agency serving at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth. The organization helps by providing a wide range of services and support to as many as 250 youth each day. Staff provide care and support for the teens who turn to them for help and helps them naviage issues like abuse, neglect, addictions, mental illness, sexual exploitation and gangs. Support goes directly to providing safe shelter, food, counselling and opportunity for homeless kids.

AlzheimerSociety of Canada: works nationally to improve the quality of life for Canadians affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia to advance the search for the cause and cure. They provide programs and services in many communities.

Toronto Yonge Street Mission: one of the city’s oldest organizations began in 1896 that faithfully served the people of the city with compassion and dignity, helping those in need to turn their lives around. Today, they offer 100 programs and services including outreach to street youth, lonely seniors, and newly immigrated families facing a new culture.

GingerBreadDreamHome.ca : this holiday season, you can give to Habitat for Humanity GTA in through this very creative campaign through the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Realtors. Donate towards local building projects to put a roof over another family’s head though this site. This delicious video is a fun tour of a festively designed imaginary home. Hey, and by donating you’ll also be entered for a chance to win a miniature  Gingerbread Dream Home (valued at $200). How’s that for a centre piece?

Ontario SPCA: with close to 50 communities, the Ontario SPCA is one of the largest, most responsive animal welfare organizations in the country, providing care and shelter for thousands of animals each year.

Kids Cook To Care: a unique charity that gives opportunities for children to be hands-on in helping in prepping and cooking meals in communities that are underserved. Donations help cover cost of purchasing ingredients for the meals. The charity also has an annual cookie initiative where families can make a donation to receive a cookie recipe by a well-known chef  and encourages families to share the cookies within their own communities.

Because I Am A Girl/Plan Canada: Everyday, millions of girls around the world are denied their basic human rights. Because I Am a Girl is a global initiative working to end gender inequality and promote girls’ rights.  The organization helps to educate and empower girls and everyone around them. Ladies Learning Code (Canada Learning Code): offers adults hands-on, project-based learning experiences that are designed to give beginners the skills and confidence they need to become digital creators. Workshops, courses welcome all adults but are designed to be a space where women are safe and comfortable to learn. Ratio is mostly 4:1 of students to mentors in each course which is only possible because of the support in technology and volunteers. The organization also offers programs for girls, kids and teens.

Toronto Wildlife Centre: donate to help feed the sick, injured and orphaned animals in care at the Toronto Wildlife Centre. Their programs also include a wildlife hotline that handles almost 30,000 calls each year from medical emergencies to wildlife conflicts. There wildlife rescue team carries out challenging, life-saving wildlife rescues each day. The centre also provides medical care for wildlife through their veterinary team.

The Shoebox Project: collects and distributes gifts in form of shoeboxes to women who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in communities across Canada and the US. Each box is filled with items valued at $50 that will be given to women in need. In 2011, the organization delivered 400 shoeboxes to the residents of four Toronto women’s shelters. In 2016 the network of volunteers delivered over 36,500 shoeboxes in 252 communities. You can find a list of what to include in your shoebox and where to drop off on their site.