I say yes! Why not give your time instead of your money? There are plenty of ways to give at Christmas without the threat of bill collectors chasing you in the New Year and we want Canadians facing debt problems to know that sometimes doing something for someone is often a better gift than buying something for someone.
Now I know giving donations to The Human Fund in lieu of a gift sounds tempting, but those of us who didn’t live under a rock in the 90’s are on to that trick!
The most obvious way to give back is volunteering at some of the great organizations to help feed individuals and families over the holidays. The Daily Food Bank, Second Harvest, or the Good Food Box programs to name a few. There are also shelters in need as well, The Scott Mission, YWCA, Eva’s Place and Covenant House. Check http://www.volunteer.ca for local agencies in your community.
But if tossing tin cans around or waiting on tables is not your thing, there are other options. Options that may be a little more exciting and still allow you to give back to the community. Even better is donating time as a family, with your partner, friends or co-workers. Not only do you avoid making your debts worse by spending money you don't have, you will be giving back to your community as a part of the community during the time of year when those in need are the most in need.
One of my favourite ways to donate is to do something nice for someone you know. Maybe a neighbour, colleague, a friend or family member. Offer to run an errand for them, take care of their kids so they can have some time alone, shovel their driveway, bring them a coffee, do their dishes. These little things can go a long way and are usually appreciated more than a monetary gift.
For those of you who consider themselves the Martha Stewart of gift wrapping this is your chance to show off your mad skills. The Heart and Stroke Foundation ( http://heartandstroke.com) needs volunteer gift wrappers for a few Toronto locations (check your local branch as this program runs across the country). They are looking for creative wrappers for the holiday season with customer service experience. They ask for a 2-shift commitment, each shift is 4 hours in length.
Finally, for those who love a fancy title it’s your opportunity to be an Ambassador! Evergreen needs Skating Rink Ambassadors for their winter skating program. It runs from December until March and they ask you to commit to 2 shifts a month, 4 hours each.
I’ve never seen a written rule requiring one to break the bank in order to have a good holiday season. Generosity shouldn’t require a consolidation loan. There are so many ways to give back to the people in your life and in your community that don't involve spending your way into debt. If time is too much of a commitment in your already busy life then give a smile, give people the time of day. Be nice to strangers, write a nice thank you note to someone who’s done a favour for you. If you enjoy volunteering your time around the holidays keep that spirit going throughout the year. There’s no wrong time to be nice and give back.
Believe me, with volunteering you can make the holiday spirit special for a lot of people.