For many people, myself included, Christmas is that time of year when we feel a little bit more generous. Maybe you put a couple boxes of pasta in the food bank hamper, toss some spare change into Santa’s bucket or buy an extra “Big Hugs Elmo” for the toy drive. There are so many wonderful ways that we can acknowledge our good fortune by giving a little something to those who may be without. Some of you may have a personal connection to a charitable cause that you feel passionate about and contribute to regularly, which is great. But if not, why not have a little peek at some reading and book related causes?
I always find that when you really believe in the cause you are supporting, the experience of giving is so much more rewarding. It is so easy to become cynical and discouraged when it comes to giving to charity, with fraudulent charities popping up everywhere and organizations coming out with questionable practices and ethics (ahem, Salvation Army). It is sad that we have to be so careful with our charity budgets, and no one can be blamed for just giving up. Educating yourself about a cause you feel passionate about and then doing something to help can be just the ticket!
And so, for your charitable-giving consideration: three really great (and 100% legit) reading-related charities.
Did you know that the school library budget for one child in 1970 is expected to cover the needs of 9 children today?
And that many Canadian children, especially those from low income, new immigrant and non-english speaking homes, only experience pleasure-reading through their school libraries? The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation encourages supporters to help in any way they can. You can donate money to buy books for high-need schools. You can get involved politically, petitioning the government for better funding. You can even get some people together and adopt a school in your community, putting books in the hands of kids in your own ‘hood.
2. Your Local Library
Every week during the summer when I was little, my Dad would drop me off at the library with his library card (Because my bullshit Childrens’ card only allowed 6 books out at a time). He would come back an hour or so later and help me carry out a stack of books as tall as I was. The library was such an integral part of my childhood, I would be a completely different person without having had the freedom to try out as many books as my heart desired, chat up the librarians about the new Sweet Valley Twins saga, and attempt to teach myself sewing, paper doll making, gymnastics, cooking, small business ownership and gardening, all via independent study 😉
Sadly, in these “stop the gravy train” times, badly needed library funding for books, staffing and programs is often first on the chopping block. So donate to your public library! Or follow this link to MY public library, Toronto Public Library
. Support the libraries in your community so that they can continue to provide books to lend, as well as programs for childhood and adult literacy, art and music programs, community access to technology and workforce readiness programs. Libraries are a staple of the community, a dollar donated to the library will add so much value to the places we live.
If you don’t have money to give, donate your used books! Or donate your time and volunteer with the library itself or one of its programs!
ABC is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering lifelong learning and literacy throughout Canada. So important, because it’s never too late to learn to read or improve your reading skills, skills which will never become less vital. Four out of ten Canadians aged 16-65 fall at or below level 3 literacy (high school completion level). These adults have serious problems with all printed materials, lending serious complications to finding employment, and making dealing with health and legal issues almost impossible.
Aside from being the group that started Family Literacy Day ( Jan. 27th), this charity started LEARN, Canada’s 1st national media literacy campaign. Basically, they raise awareness around adult illiteracy, encouraging adults who struggle with literacy to contact the agency, at which point they are put in touch with teachers and programs to help. ABC has helped tens of thousands of Canadians acquire literacy skills and make reading a part of their lives.
- The Malala Fund, the organization started by Malala Yousafzai that fights for girl’s education worldwide.
- Gifts of Hope by Plan Canada. Offers a variety of gifts you can give to people who need them the most. Give a goat, a box of books or a newborn check-up!
So If you’re looking for a way to give that means something to you on a personal level, consider one of these wonderful causes. Or if you’re passionate about art or music, donate to your city’s symphony, or a local childrens art program. Have a hard to shop for aunt who loves animals? Instead of another cat figurine, donate in her name to the SPCA or adopt an endangered animal on her behalf from WWF. There are lots of ways to make a difference this season, just think outside of the Santa bucket, and be sure to do your research.