Features

Giving Instead of Receiving?

Ways to give back to the community this Christmas 

Sara Alonzi FEATURES EDITOR

The Christmas season is a time filled with joy and celebration. People all across the world join their families and friends for a special time that brings people together. My favourite part of Christmas as a child was opening the presents my friends and family gave to me. However, I was always taught by my parents that the Christmas season is not about receiving gifts, but in fact is about giving gifts. This idea has stuck with me throughout my life, and ever since moving to Toronto and seeing how the less fortunate live, it has become a predominant concern in my mind. Why should I, a fortunate individual lucky enough to receive an education, surrounded by a supportive group of family and friends, with a roof over my head and food to eat, receive presents that I don’t need? I have everything I need to survive and more, so why should receiving presents be such a big deal in our society? If it is the season of giving, then we should do more of that, shouldn’t we? 

This year, my friends and I agreed that instead of getting each other presents we would organize a Secret Santa game. We decided to each pick a name out of a hat, and then we would buy the corresponding person a children’s toy that matches their personality. After we gift our presents to each other, we wanted to donate these unused gifts to children who are not so fortunate as to receive Christmas presents this year. It’s a fun way to show that you care about your friend by picking out a children’s toy that you think they most resemble, and it’s even more fun to give that present away to someone else in need. 

There are many ways you can donate gifts of all kinds to the less fortunate. One of those ways was through the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) Annual Christmas Toy Drive. On the St. Mike’s Campus Ministry Facebook page, you could find details about the Toy Drive and what items they would be accepting, as well as where the items would be going. This year, St. Mike’s Campus Ministry teamed up with a bunch of organizations like the University of St. Michael’s College Alumni and Friends, St. Basil’s Parish, and University of Toronto Campus Police. The items they accepted go toward the patrons of the St. Vincent de Paul and St. Basil’s ministries! 

If you missed out on the USMC Toy Drive, then never fear! There are always numerous organizations you can still give to. One of them is the toy drive at SickKids Hospital located on 555 University Avenue. The children who are hospitalized either temporarily or long-term at SickKids deserve to enjoy the thrill of opening Christmas presents just as much as we do. To find out more about which donations they accept and how you can help, visit their webpage at: www.sickkids.ca. The deadline to donate is December 12! Another organization is the Toronto Fire Fighter Toy Drive which accepts all new toys that you can drop off at any fire station in your area. To visit this organization’s website and learn more about their cause see: www.torontofirefighterstoydrive.org. The final organization is the Yonge Street Mission, which allows families to select from a list of donated items and toys for their children. You can visit their website at: www.ysm.ca to learn more about what you can do to help out families and children in need. 

I would like every individual who reads this article to imagine a person, of any age, who has been through a rough time in their lives and who does not have the means to provide any gifts for others nor do they expect to receive any in turn. Now imagine the look on their face as you give them a present; something that you did not have to do, but instead was from the goodness of your heart. Think of how loved that person will feel, and how for just an instant their pain, whatever it may be, can seem a bit more bearable. How does this make you feel? If donating a small gift can cause so much joy and happiness, then wouldn’t it be worth spending some time and money on a cause that might change someone’s life forever? 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, no matter who you are, no matter where you are. Always remember that you are loved.