EDITORIAL: There are many ways to give back

Local and regional charities welcome donations of cash and time

With November winding down and December looming large, Christmas-focused charities are ramping up their operations in preparation for the giving season.

While most of these organizations run all year long, providing valuable support in their communities, it’s at this time of year that many shift their focus onto helping make the holiday season a little more joyous for families.

With that in mind, it’s a good time for all of us to consider how we might be able to help these “first-world” humanitarian efforts.

There are numerous places to donate, from food banks and church hamper drives to toy and stocking stuffer drives.

One unique campaign (shoeboxproject.com/victoria.html) not specifically geared for Christmastime encourages donors to fill a shoebox with $50 worth basic toiletries and other small gifts, for women escaping violent and abusive relationships. Women often arrive at shelters and transition houses with little more than the clothes on their backs, so having some of the basic needs looked after can be a welcome gift, indeed.

The Goldstream Food Bank, which becomes the Westshore Christmas Hamper Society for December, not only accepts food, but cash as well. That cash usually buys more of the basics, leaving such “treats” as energy bars, coffee and juice boxes to be donated by the public. Why not call down (250-474-4443) for a list of such luxury items, find a local bulk sale and pass the goodies along for inclusion in family hampers?

For animal lovers, donations to the SPCA’s  Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC), which helps injured creatures regain their strength to be able to return to the wild are always gratefully accepted. And there are many regional efforts, such as the Salvation Army’s toy drive and hamper campaigns and the Santas Anonymous program.

For people with limited resources, another option is to volunteer your time.

No matter which choice one makes, the giving feels good no matter how big or small and can go a long way toward brightening the lives of those less fortunate around us.