THE GIFT OF GIVING: Holiday Help for Those in Need

As a mom of three kids under five, I have a special duty when the holiday’s roll around. The tree, the gifts, the meals – I plan every single detail, trying to check every magical box. There isn’t a mother who wouldn’t try to do the same. Thanks to movies, commercials, and advertising, Christmas has become a season of the wow factor. And parents who provide their children with material luxuries and dazzling experiences, do so from privilege.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, there are 61,100 residents of Simcoe Muskoka living in poverty. Many without the opportunity to experience the magic of Christmas – but as a community, we can change that. While gifts are certainly something to be admired, I know my favourite holiday memories are the time I’ve spent around the table with loved ones. Through charities in Simcoe County, residents like you and me can help provide necessities for families to create magical holiday moments. Here are a few recommendations on where to start:

Christmas Cheer Barrie
Entering its 47th year, Christmas Cheer Barrie is run by a group of socially-minded volunteers who work to give back to the less fortunate in Innisfil, Angus, Barrie, Springwater, and Oro-Medonte. Their Cheer Board does this with the generous donations of time, money, food, and toys from individuals, schools, social organizations, and businesses in our communities.

This year, the organization will fulfill the needs of nearly 1,800 local families who won’t otherwise be able to afford Christmas. Christmas Cheer accepts donations through
their website.

The Sharing Place Food Centre, Orillia
95 Dufferin Street, Orillia •

The Sharing Place Food Centre is a community-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping Orillia area residents living with food insecurity.

This holiday season, The Sharing Place is filling 450 hampers with food items for breakfast, holiday dinner, dessert, and more. These hampers will be distributed to individuals, couples, and families in time for the holidays. You can register for a hamper by phone, or drop off donations in person.

The Sharing Place will also be running Meals-4-Change, which is a program that produces healthy, ready-to-eat meals utilizing food recovered through their Food Recovery Program. The program allows them to produce meals at a fraction of the cost of store-bought dinners. They use kitchens in Orillia to cook more than 400 nutritious meals a week and have prepared more than 20,000 meals in the last year. The meals are distributed to their members and to local agencies.

Community support is key to the success of these programs. Every donation given takes these organizations one step closer to strengthening our local food system and tackling food insecurity and poverty.

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