Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mother's Day - Gifts That Go Beyond!

Mother's Day has somehow become tied to gift giving. While I too love receiving gifts, the reality is that aside from a leisurely lie in with a favourite magazine and someone else taking care of the menu/meals for the day, I really have all I want and need. 

This year consider suggesting to your family that instead of a gift for you, they give a gift to another mother that would truly make a difference in their lives. Here are some suggestions.

For the Animal Lover:

Image: Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo (and zoos across the country) have an "Adopt A Pet" program. From as little as just $25 your family can adopt an animal in your name, helping the zoo to take good care of the animals, protect endangered species, and pursue on-going conservation efforts. This year they even have a special Mother's Day Baby Polar Bear program.

For the Philanthropist:


KIVA is a non-profit organization with a mission to alleviate worldwide poverty through microfinancing. It provides a help-up not a hand-out. Basically, you make a loan (which will be repaid) and Kiva will distribute 100% of that money to people throughout the world who don't have access to traditional banking systems. Kiva provides safe, affordable access to capital to those in need and helps people create better lives for themselves and their families. Your loan is pooled with other people's loans so $25 goes a long way. It really allows you to act globally.

Last Mother's Day I gave actually gave this gift to myself. You can read more about my experience here but let me just say, helping a mother in another country to help feed, clothe and shelter her family was a very rewarding gift. My $25 loan was completely repaid and I reinvested it again in another mother. My strategy for picking...I search for someone with the same name as me, simple as that.

For the Book Lover:


"Can you imagine a childhood without books?

No Wizard of Oz. No Harry Potter. No Cat in the Hat. No maps of faraway places, or stories about the people who live there.

A book can inspire a child to discover the world—and themselves. Nothing is a better indicator of future success than early literacy."

Help spread a love for reading to all children across Canada. By donating to !ndigo's Love of Reading Foundation you will help fund reading programs, fill libraries, and inspire kids across Canada to find their passion for reading.

For the Traveller:



I can't think of a better gift to give a mother than the security that her child is going to recieve the nutrition, medicine, sanitation and schooling that they need and deserve. UNICEF is one of the world’s best recognized charities and a leading advocate for children, helping to build a world where the rights of every child are realized. There are many ways that UNICEF can use your money but a Survival Gift such as a Baby Health Pack, a Vaccination Pack or a Mobile Health Unit will take the burden off a mother who might otherwise be unable to provide these essentials for her own children.

For the Nature Lover:


Evergreen is a national charity that makes cities more livable. Their mission is to bring communities and nature together for the benefit of both. By deepening the connection between people and nature, and empowering Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, Evergreen is improving the health of our cities—now and for the future. A donation to Evergreen will help plant trees in cities, fund a Healthy Choices workshop for a teen, send a child to camp, plant a garden in a city, etc. The list goes on and on.  

Nature Canada's mission is to protect and conserve wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature. They focus on effecting change on issues of national significance, including bird conservation, wilderness protection, endangered species and connecting people to nature. A donation to Nature Canada helps to protect the animals, plants and the many special places that make up our beautiful country's ecosystem.

For the Athlete:


Kidsport is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that believes that no kid should be left on the sidelines and all should be given the opportunity to experience the positive benefits of organized sports. They provide financial assistance for registration fees and equipment to kids aged 18 and under in order to remove financial barriers that prevent them from playing organized sport.

As parents we want our children to be able to experience everything they are interested in. By making a donation to Kidsport you can help another mother ensure her kid isn't sidelined due to their financial situation.

For the Foodie:


We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It fuels or body and brain for the day ahead and gives us the leg-up we need to tackle what the day throws at us. Imagine not being able to provide that necessity for your child. It was startling to me to learn that in Canada, one in 10 Canadian children (637,000) live in poverty and are at risk of starting their day on an empty stomach. The Breakfast Clubs of Canada are a not-for-profit organization that are doing their part to ensure that kids are fed a good breakfast to ensure they are ready to learn. By providing services and funding to school breakfast programs, the Breakfast Clubs of Canada were able to provide more than 16 million breakfasts to children attending schools in disadvantaged areas during the 2010-2011 school year.

Our food banks are always looking for donations to help alleviate hunger in our communities. Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing and supporting the food bank community across Canada. A donation to Food Banks Canada will assist in supporting some of the 900,000 Canadians that are assisted by food banks each month. 

A financial donation is always appreciated however you could also make a food donation which would allow you and your family to discuss, shop and deliver the good yourselves. If you choose to go this route, these are the food and household items most urgently needed by food banks.

  • Pasta (canned or dry) and pasta sauces
  • Canned and frozen meats and fish
  • Meat alternatives (peanut butter, soy, assorted packaged nuts)
  • Canned goods (beans, soups, and stews)
  • Dairy (fresh, canned, and powdered milk)
  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Infant foods and baby formula
  • Bathroom tissue and diapers
  • Personal hygiene products
I wish you all a Happy Mother's Day and hope you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones!

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