How can I help my community? Consider Gift Giving with the Canadian Red Cross

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We just had one of my favourite days of the year: Giving Tuesday.  I love that someone came up with the idea that after the gluttony of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we take a step back to reflect and consider spending some money on gifts that keep on giving.  The gifts to charities are so important at this time of year.  With all that our children and teens see as a right to a new phone, more make-up or a brand new gaming system its time to check-in on the true spirit of giving.  How do you teach the value of giving?  Think about that.  When did you decided that you needed to give back?  Give back your time. Resources. Knowledge.  Financial support.  How often do you stop to consider donating to a good cause during the holiday season?  Is it when you see a Santa ringing a bell and asking for a donation or maybe a cadet standing outside a grocery store?  When do you start taking notice and giving just a little bit?  Maybe you reconsider when you see an immediate need.  In this past year we have found our fellow-man/woman/child in desperate need and the Canadian Red Cross has been there to help.

This is an organization which I have supported for a very long time.  Many years ago as a professional organizers (along with a few other colleagues), we went to the local Red Cross offices to help them get organized.  The many hours we spent there, helped me understand a few things about this charitable organization: (1) they have many, many supplies for disaster relief; (2) it takes a monumental amount of co-ordination to help in an emergency; and (3) they help, here, at home as well as abroad.   With over 120 years of history in Canada the Red Cross has helped people within our nation and the rest of the world with medical services and social programs.

Canadian Red Cross at Home

I know we often think “charity begins at home” and we should support those in our community first but donating to the Red Cross means you can do both.  Because they work with people who are in need both nationally and internationally, it should not go un-noticed that the Canadian Red Cross provides a variety of services within our communities.  In each province and territory the Canadian Red Cross provided different support services.  Within my home province of Ontario,  there are comprehensive support services for indigenous people, seniors citizens and children.  From Community housing support to violence, bullying and abuse prevention programs to migrant and refugee services, these programs offer help to our citizens.  I was surprised to find out the Canadian Red Cross provided so many of these social services (although, I was not surprised by the swimming and water safety programs).

Services provided by the Canadian Red Cross in Ontario

  • Aboriginal Support Services

  • Community Housing Support
  • Community Support Services
  • Emergency and Disaster Services
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Migrant and Refugee Services
  • Nutrition and Transportation
  • Senior Support Services
  • Swimming and Water Safety
  • Violence, Bullying and Abuse Prevention

In times of crisis they also provide emergency food, clothing and lodging as well as family reunification and personal services.  No better example of how the Canadian Red Cross helped in an emergency was when 90,000 residents had to flee from Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016.  Eighteen months later, almost 75% of the funds raised have been distributed with the help of the Red Cross and the Canadian Government.  It takes a large organization like the Canadian Red Cross to mobilize fundraising efforts and then distribute the resources that people needed.

Whether in the thick of the crisis, helping in the aftermath or providing support to residents when they returned home, the Canadian Red Cross was there to help.  That takes a lot of work and it may surprise you to learn that 91.3 % of every dollar spent goes directly towards program expenses.  If you consider the huge costs that it would take to administer, set up and deliver these services and programs,  I think that percentage of giving back is pretty amazing.

Canadian Red Cross Abroad

This year has been very stressful for many people in the world.  Nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day around the world. There have been natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma and Maria with devastating effects in the United States and throughout the Caribbean. Displacement of refugees in Myanmar, drought in Africa and of course, the continued plight of Syrian refugees. These are world events that we must help with.

Natural disasters and extreme weather destroy food and water supplies each year. So I ask you to consider giving the gift of water and food ($60) to feed a family of five for a month.  We are a family of five and I consider this a teaching moment for our children to see that helping others is also in the spirit of Christmas donations and gift giving.  We have donated to other charities in the past. It will be no different this year.

Canadian Red Cross Gift Giving 2017_ @DownshiftingPROIf you need to buy a gift for someone who ‘has everything’ or if you want to set an example for your kids, or you simply want to give because you’re a giving person, why not consider giving a gift to the Canadian Red Cross?

There are plenty of  ways of giving a gift be it a blanket to keep refugees and migrants warm, to feed a family in need for an entire month or to supply life-saving medicines for babies and mothers, there is a gift for you.  Build a survival kit for $200, or choose an individual dollar amount or a gift such as 2 blankets ($15 each). The choice is yours.

Red Cross Canada_Survival Kit_ detail_ Giving Gifts 2017

Giving an entire Survival Kit (like what you see above) may not be in your budget but you can certainly consider a smaller donation.  Should you choose to give a donation without a specific designation, know that your donation gives Red Cross Canada the flexibility to rapidly respond in the most effective way to emergencies or emerging humanitarian needs at home and anywhere in the world.  If however, a monetary donation is still not within reach, please consider volunteering.

Red Cross Canada_Survival Kit_ Giving Gifts 2017

Double Your Canadian Red Cross Donation

Lastly, with most large appeals, there is always an opportunity to double your gift! This Holiday season if you choose to donate to the Canadian Red Cross  Aviva will match all gifts to a maximum of $30,000 in total. I know when I donated to the Wildfires in Fort McMurray and Typhoon Haiyan relief in the Philippines, there was always a match gift from the Government of Canada and corporate donors.  A new Ipsos survey for the Canadian Red Cross finds that in light of the many disasters in Canada and abroad last year, most Canadians (63 per cent) feel compelled to donate to charity or volunteer their time as we approach this holiday season.

Will you be one of those Canadians?


Remember EVERY TUESDAY can be a Giving Tuesday
It doesn’t have to be just once a year Winking smile

Keep in touch with Red Cross Canada for any information that you may need.  You can find them:

Twitter: @redcrosscanada


Instagram: redcrosscanada







This post has been sponsored by Red Cross Canada as part of a Thrifty Mom Media influencer outreach program. My opinion is all my own and it is truthful.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for and other online media outlets.

8 thoughts on “How can I help my community? Consider Gift Giving with the Canadian Red Cross”

  1. I love that they have a lot of options for donation gifts. It’s always a great idea to gift a donation to a worthwhile cause, it’s so much more fulfilling than buying yet another “thing” that no one really needs.

  2. The Red Cross is a great cause to support, it has changed so many peoples lives for the better across the whole world.

  3. You are so right that, with all of the gifts many kids receive, including expensive cell phones and gaming systems, it’s important that we adults discuss with them the need for thinking about others at this time of year and all year really. Thank goodness Red Cross Canada has the resources to mobilize in extreme situations such as the Fort McMurray fire and daily crisis situations globally. I like that they have gifts available that help whether you have a small budget for giving or a big one.

  4. I love that you can make a donation in exactly the item(s) that you are interested in donating. With the work of the Red Cross so needed in Canada and abroad I love that they are focusing in on things desperately needed in their work. I am planning to pitch this idea to my work as a donation idea instead of a yearly gift exchange.

  5. Such a great cause to support! I love that you and your entire family embrace this as part of who you are. This is one reason I love you guys. Just really kind people who believe in giving. I was amazed when I read how much of the money raised by Canadian Red Cross goes into supporting programs. That is extremely efficient and should make people feel even better about giving. Also yes it is extremely important to some charitable individuals that charities also support those at home. Great post. Sharing!

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