This summer I watched a documentary on Netflix called Poverty Inc. It was both eye-opening and educational, (hello: documentary!), but also a little shocking?! It turns out that sometimes the help we give can hurt.
If you have a hour and a half to check it out (cause there’s no hockey on or the Jets are practically last in their division or something), here you go: Netflix: Poverty Inc. And if you don’t, (or won’t… cause apparently not everyone is into documentaries), one of the big takeaways I had was help up, not hand out. (But seriously, check it out. I feel like I learned a lot and and I can’t explain nearly as well).
sometimes always maybe a little awkward to step out of our comfort zone. And it turns out that even when we have the best intentions, we sometimes still get it wrong. But as we prepare for the Christmas season, we should count our (likely many, many) blessings and find ways to reach out anyhow.
Here are three ideas that work for our family: one for volunteering, one for giving, and one for lending.
1. Christmas Cheer Board – VOLUNTEER
There are many ways to donate and volunteer here but the one that works best for our run-to-hockey-do-your-homework-did-someone-feed-the-dog family is the most flexible: you go to the warehouse right in Sunny St. James whenever you want. Whatever day works for you (anytime Dec. 8-23) any time that works for you (from 9-9 weekdays and 9-5 weekends), pick up some boxes and turkeys and drop them off to individuals and families in need.
After doing this last year, we will definitely do it again and from my personal experience I will assure you that if it wasn’t for this resource, while we are sitting down to our own Christmas table overflowing with turkey and stuffing and and and, many others in Winnipeg would not.
2. West End 24 Hour Safe Space – DONATE
When I was 22 I purchased my first house in Winnipeg’s West End. I was a single mom and fortunate to be able to afford to provide a home for H and I to enjoy those early years, (and A joined in along the way too). Our family was also fortunate to be able to afford to move to another neighborhood when H was older and beginning those years a kid wants to enjoy freedom to explore on their own without an omnipresent, watchful eye of a parent.
Not everyone has the luxury of that choice. The West End is a neighborhood with higher crime rates and more active streets than most and sometimes home is not a refuge. WE24 provides a safe space that would otherwise not be available to some youth of the area. Over the last year or two, with financial support they are now open for youth 24/7 through the weekends and school holidays. Every kid should get to live in safety, all the time. It shouldn’t be a luxury and yet for so many, (too many)… it is.
3. Kiva – LEND
From their website: By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. For some, it’s a matter of survival, for others it’s the fuel for a life-long ambition. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans.
You can pick a country, read the bios, and choose a person to lend to and help them achieve their goals. Most recently, (and after some time tracing my own Ukrainian roots), I lent to Roman from Ukraine, who wanted a loan to purchase walnuts in the low season to sell in the high season. Now I am not a fan of walnuts but Roman has been doing this for over 10 years now so I’m sure he knows what he it doing. Fun fact? Over 99% of the loans through Kiva are repaid (so you can do it again and again).
So I won’t be helping “them” this Christmas because there is only “us”. Our family and friends, the people we know and the people we don’t know, and the people maybe we don’t know yet:
Our community members in St. James and Winnipeg.
Our kids’ peers and the volunteers in the West End.
Our brother-from-another-mother in Ukraine.
Trite. Very trite I know. Tis the season. I hope you find your “us” this holiday time too.
Want some more ideas? You can check out Old Granny Girl’s blog or good old Google.