You can make a difference

Well, the holiday season is upon us. 

With the passing of American Thanksgiving, we are officially in the thick of it — decorations and music everywhere you go, treats tempting you at every turn, and reasons offered on all media for spending more money on more gifts. 

How does one get through it all? I have an idea. How about we focus on the giving, the sharing, as opposed to the receiving and the stuff? 

Giving gifts to loved ones is a lovely gesture, but let's face it: most of us don't really need any of those gifts. What if we looked for those who were truly in need? 

Instead of just practising randomness acts of kindness (which are wonderful any time of year), we could plan to make a difference. 

I'm going to give you a list of possibilities, all designed to be projects that could be shared with friends or family or colleagues at the office. 

There are options to spend large sums of money, but some items on the list involve only time.

I am also trying to give ideas that are less well known, so you won't see some of the more popular charities. They are no less worthy; I'm just working to share the wealth.

I leave it to you to decide what might fit for you this year...

They say charity starts at home, so here are five local opportunities in Kelowna for you:

Gospel Mission — There are many options here. You can donate any sum you like (paying for a Christmas dinner is less than $10), you can shop at their thrift store, or you can volunteer. 

The Mission offers many services to assist people in transition and offer them security. 

Salvation Army — Of course, you can donate. The Sally Ann, as my parents always called it, has been around for decades. 

Food and toy donations are possible, or you can volunteer to be a Santa’s helper by manning one of the many Christmas kettles around town throughout the season.

Fill a Purse — This is a new program in Kelowna, having spread across the country. 

It’s a simple project: fill a new or gently used purse with some essentials and donate it for distribution at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter or Gospel Mission, to assist someone who is in transition and needs a hand up.

Inn from the cold — This local shelter offers a place for those “experiencing homelessness and life outdoors in the winter.” They welcome donations and volunteer time. 

Kelowna Community Services — This local resource publishes a yearly list of various events and efforts by a large number of community groups; such as dinners, sponsoring a family, volunteering or donating with various groups, etc. It also lists free holiday events.

If you’d like to think more of the big picture, here are three wonderful causes that are global in nature:

World Vision — The holiday catalogue this organization puts out is creative and inspiring. 

Instead of just asking people to donate sums, they attach a specific value to it. Don’t you feel more involved if you know you are giving two chickens and a rooster to a community that needs more safe food and sustainable work?

As with Salvation Army, there is a Christian foundation to World Vision, but they do not demand any such alliance from participants or donors. 

Amnesty International — If you consider yourself politically active or concerned about human rights, then this is a good cause for you. There are many ways to get involved here, including simply taking action such as writing a letter or signing a petition.

World Wildlife Foundation — Here’s another creative fundraising and gift-giving combination that will warm almost anyone’s heart. After all, who wouldn’t want to adopt a panda, or a caribou? (Did you know caribou are the same as reindeer?) 

And with this kind of animal adoption you don’t need to worry about how big your house or yard is, or if you have allergies, or even what to do when you travel.

This provides a great educational opportunity for kids as well, allowing them to learn more about the world as a whole and animals and their environment in particular.

I know this time of year the pressure to help out can be overwhelming.

All you need to remember is that every little bit helps. If we can all give a little bit of ourselves, think of the power of all that good karma.


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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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