“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
– Charles Dickens

There is no denying that the holidays are busy.

It’s a time when we feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions (for better or worse), making it easy to miss the point sometimes.

This time of year is about family, fun, and festivities.

…But the holidays should also be about charity, goodwill to the people around us, and giving to those less fortunate.

But what if you’re not sure where to start?

Sometimes when we look at the different needs around us, it can feel overwhelming – What can I do? I’m just one person.

But every bit counts, and we’re hoping that these 5 suggestions will inspire you to find your own way to give back this Holiday season:

No matter how you decide to give, if there is one thing most people can agree on, it’s that it feels good to give.

The greatest good is what we do for one another.”
– Mother Teresa

1. Donating clothes to help keep people warm

For many of us across Canada, this time of year also means cold weather.

And while curling up with a hot cocoa and a cozy blanket next to the fire is a great way to spend the night, the winter can be an especially hard time for anyone who is struggling.

You don’t have to look hard to find someone who could benefit from a gift of clean blankets, a warm jacket, and scarves and mitts.

Having a warm place to stay at night is something that is very easy to take for granted – but now is the perfect time to think about ways to spread that warmth around.

  • Sort through your closet and find jackets that you might not wear anymore.
  • Purchase sleeping bags and blankets to donate them to your local YMCA or homeless shelter.
  • Surprise someone who you know might be struggling with a tank of oil to heat their house.
  • Buy some extra gloves and scarves, to carry around in your car, so that you can hand them out to any homeless people you see on your travels.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill

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2. Donating food

The holidays are definitely a time for overindulging.

It seems no matter where you go, you are greeted with plate after plate of yummy sweet treats and savoury food that you crave all year long.

But for many people around the world, and in our very towns and cities, food is not easy to come by. People rely on local food banks and soup kitchens, and without these organizations, they wouldn’t know where their next meal is coming from.

There are many ways you can give the gift of food in your community. In fact, many grocery stores allow you to pick up a few extra groceries and leave them there so they can deliver them at a later date.

Food is a comfort, and there may be people that you know personally who would really appreciate a thoughtful, home-cooked meal:

  • the single parent who works a lot and might not have time to cook a turkey for their family,
  • someone who recently suffered a loss and might not feel like cooking this season, or even
  • someone who is constantly giving of themselves to help others, and might need someone to take the time to look after them for once.

Whatever way you choose to give the gift of food this season, you’ll definitely be making a difference in someone’s day.

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
— Maya Angelou

3. Donating toys and gifts

Presents and gifts are certainly a fun part of the holidays.

And while we all do our best to make sure the gifts are not the focal point this time of year, there is definitely excitement in not knowing what is under the pretty paper, ribbons, and bows.

But sadly, there are families all over the world who don’t have the means to make presents happen for the children in their homes.

And whether you:

  • buy some toys for a local toy drive,
  • fill a shoebox full of goodies for a child in a third world country, or
  • surprise your neighbours with some gift cards to go buy some gifts for under the tree…

…making sure children all over the world get to experience the magic of the season will be just as much of a gift for you as it will be for them.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
– Anne Frank

4. Donating your time

Food is needed and presents are always nice, but even if you’re unable to give a tangible gift this season to someone less fortunate, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

Sometimes giving your time is the best thing you could do.

While there is no denying that this is an especially busy time of year, maybe instead of going to 5 different Christmas parties, or watching every single Hallmark Christmas movie on tv (because let’s face it, they are all the same), you could volunteer one night a week somewhere.

Because volunteers are always needed – everywhere.

Here are just a few ideas of where you could give your time:

  • serving at a soup kitchen,
  • volunteering at a local out-of-the-cold shelter,
  • spending time at a nursing home with elderly people who might not have anyone,
  • visiting sick children who are in the hospital, to play games and watch Christmas movies with them, or even
  • walking dogs at a local shelter.

We all have different interests, and not every volunteer situation is for everyone, but there are all kinds of ways you could give the gift of time. You just need to find one that fits you. Reach out to your local shelter and hospitals, to see what needs are there that you could meet.

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
— Booker T. Washington

People might not realize this, but there are actually credit cards out there that will allow you to donate your credit card points – a cool and easy way to give back.

Simply collect your points all year long, on all of your credit card purchases, and then donate them to help a charity in need.

The BMO Rewards program

Any cards that give you BMO Rewards points will allow you to redeem them towards charitable donations.

In fact, BMO will allow you to donate your points to a select number of charities, and give you the same redemption value as you would get from investments:

15,000 points = $100 in donations

What a great way to use your credit card points!

There are two credit cards that will award you with BMO Rewards points:

BMO Rewards Mastercard

The is a no fee card that will give you BMO Rewards on every single dollar you spend – 1 point per $1 spent, to be exact.

Plus, this card will give you one of the highest sign up bonuses of any no fee card on the market right now. Up to 20,000 BMO Rewards points for you to use (and donate) as you please:

  • 10,000 points when you make your first purchase, and
  • 10,000 additional points when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months as a cardholder.

This is a credit card reward redemption option that you could feel really good about.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

The is a premium credit card that will give you the same charitable redemption option, increase your earning potential, and give you some pretty great perks as well:

  • 3 points for every $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment (up to $50k combined annually),
  • 2 points for every other $1 spent,
  • 35,000 welcome points and the first year free,
  • one of the best insurance packages of any credit card in Canada,
  • complimentary lounge access with 4 annual passes, and
  • the ability to earn rewards everywhere you shop – even Costco.

This card will allow you to give back in a big way while giving you some exclusive perks to help take care of you as well.

Note: For more information about BMO Rewards charitable donations, you can contact the BMO Rewards Centre at 1-866-991-2835.

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
— Francis of Assisi

We would love to hear from you

Giving back is such a beautiful thing, and we would love to hear about some of your favourite ways to give back, during the holidays and any other time of the year.

Let us know in the comments below.

And let’s remember, that even when the holidays are over, we should still try to find ways to give back in our communities.

Let’s spread the warmth and love this holiday season and beyond.

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
— Bob Hope