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According to the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering & Participating, over 23 million Canadians over 15 made a charitable donation annually. Most donations result from mail requests or from someone asking in a public place. Most people reported that they donated due to "feeling compassion for those in need" or because they wanted to help a cause they believed in.

It is no surprise that many of those donations are made during the holday season, simply because people are more aware of the plight of the less fortune, and because there are more opportunities to donate.

Yet, in a time of economic downturn, some people do not have the means to donate, or cannot donate as much as they would like. Here are some suggestions of other ways to donate:

1. Donate used goods. Everyone has something laying around that they no longer need or use, which would be much appreciated by the less fortunate. Instead of putting it outside, pack it up and bring it to a donation center, like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul Society. (Make sure it useful and still useable. Do not donate broken goods.)

2. Give away leftovers. Everyone makes too much food during the holidays. Rather than eating turkey sandwiches for two weeks, take your extra food to a homeless shelter. Or simply, pack an extra lunch every day and give it to someone asking for donations on the street.

3. Don't re-gift! Everyone gets presents they have no use for! Yet another toaster? Rather than re-gifting, or trying to return it to the store for credit, give it to a charitable organization. If you already have a toaster, then you won't miss it. And in the meantime, it will help someone else. This is particularly true of toys! Children often get more toys than they will ever play with. If the child is old enough, ask them to choose one toy they want to give to someone else. According to Living Below the Poverty Line: Canadian Children in Poverty 2007, a World Vision report, approximately 1.2 million children live in poverty in our very own country.

4. Donate your time & skills. More and more, people want to donate their time and skills. But often, there is a surplus of volunteers during the holiday season. Try to volunteer after the holidays or at any other time during the year, when there is often a scarcity of volunteers.

5. Donate blood. Even more than money, it is one of the most important things that you can give to others.

If everyone donated one dollar in Canada, we'd raise 33 million dollars. So before you dismiss giving the dime or quarter because it seems like so little, remember every little bit helps!

Here are some links to organizations accepting goods (as well as money):

Salvation Army


Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Greater Vancouver:

The Developmental Disabilities Association:

To give blood:

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