Rachel's Resources | Giving Back During The Holidays

Hey friends, Rachel here!

The past couple of months seem to have flown by so quickly, this year has been an extraordinary year and something none of us have ever gone through before, but we are all trying our best to move through the motions of this pandemic. If this year has shown us anything, when we work together and support our communities, a lot can happen. With the pandemic, it can be a challenging time of the year to volunteer and give back to the communities and people who have supported you. To make it easier, I have compiled a long list of great COVID-friendly ways to give back this season.  

It is important to remember that you can still support your community without a monetary transaction. The best way to help someone is to show up. When wanting to support and give back to your community, keep these in mind.

  1. If you can, buy directly from the creator and avoid any middle parties
  2. If you aren't able to buy from the creator, buy locally. Many small businesses, like the ones we work with, work hard to curate their shops for precisely what you are looking for.
  3. Show support by spreading the word of your fave creator or small business through social media, friends and family - you never know who you can inspire.
  4. Cheer them on from the sidelines - post about them online, comment on their posts, use their hashtags and send encouraging words and support.
  5. Let them know you appreciate them and if you are running into any issues, let them know kindly - we are all going through a pandemic together.
  6. If you love what they do, write a review [this would make a great slogan].

Please note that many of these items on this list are Toronto-based because they are close to where we are located, but I hope these inspire you to see what is possible and how you can create them in your hometown. Amazing, let's jump right into our COVID friendly ways to support and give back to your community.


Movie Theatres

      • Like many businesses, movie theatres cannot be used at this moment due to the pandemic, and many of them are losing money. Order popcorn [nothing tastes better than Movie Theatre popcorn] and snacks from your local movie theatre and treat yourself to movie night at home.
      • You can also buy tickets online from your local theatres and stream them from home, a small way to help support theatres.
      • Check out our local theatre, Revue Cinema, for upcoming streaming services.

    Virtual Events | Eventbrite

        • With many in-person events cancelled, it allows so many possibilities to move to a virtual space, allowing anyone in the world to join [which is pretty great]. Check out Eventbrite to see what is happening virtually, some events are free, and some you can buy tickets to.
        • This makes a great "treat yourself" gift while also helping support other small businesses, plus Eventbrite has a TON of events.

      Online Cooking Course | Good Housekeeping List

          • When everything becomes virtual, it means a lot of people get access to it. I found a great list on Good Housekeeping of cooking classes you can take online, some are free, and others you have to pay for, but that means you can help support the person running the class.
          • Can't find a class you want or know a great chef, ask if they are hosting any virtual classes.

        Create a free Library

            • If you don't have a library near you available, you can create your own free Library where the community adds books that they want to share with everyone.
            • On the Little Free Library website, you can find blueprints on creating your Library, if there are ones close to you and COVID-19 information for creating/using a Little Free Library.

          AIRBNB Virtual Experiences

            Virtual Dance Class

                • I recently watched Debbie Allen's Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Netflix; it was so fun and festive - Debbie Allen can really do it all.
                • To support her non-profit dance school, DADA [Debbie Allen Dance Academy], is running virtual online classes. To check it out, click here; classes run from $5 - $75+.

              Support a Podcast 

                  • With many cuts to the creative industry, podcasts need your help to survive and depend on donations from their community.
                  • If you have a specific podcast you love, visit their site to find out how to donate and support them, or you can checkout Stitcher to find other amazing podcasts.


                    • Patreon is a platform used by many creatives to help give their communities exclusive content.
                    • You get access to this content when you support them by donating a set fee per month.


                      • When you use Skillshare, you learn new skills from someone who works in that field.
                      • There are many free classes you can take, and you can also take paid classes. I've heard great things about Skillshare, and there are a lot of options.

                    It's Nice That | Extra Nice 

                        • It's Nice That is a creative platform and media page with many resources, interviews and articles on their site to inspire their community. It is a great way to discover new artists and is based in the UK.
                        • They've created a new section called Extra Nice; when you pay an annual fee, you get access to exclusive online events, their archive and help support It's Nice That; 10% of proceeds bring a creative project to life that focuses on diversity [we love it].

                      Live Streams | Participate or set up your own

                          • Participate or spread the word about a Live Stream that is raising money for a good cause.  Twitch has been used to host these Live Streams, and they do not take a cut of any donations made; YouTube has recently set this up on their site.
                          • When you are watching a Live Stream, you can donate to the cause, share it, and everyone gets to watch how much money is made together. Some people on YouTube will donate money based on how many views a video receives, or any money they make off of their video through ads will be donated to their cause of choice.
                          • If you want to set up your own Live Stream to help raise money for a good cause, check out this article.
                          • To read more about how to use Twitch to support charities, click here.

                        Kickstarter | Make 100

                            • Support someone who is participating in Kickstarter's annual Make 100 project.
                            • Each year, starting in January, Kickstarter encourages creatives to make 100 of one project - 100 drawings, poems, short stories, etc. and get people to back your project.
                            • Make 100 is highlighted on Kickstarter's site, and it is a way to support artists participating in the project. Click here to read some Make 100 projects that kickstarted these artists careers. Click here to participate in Make 100 and here for more ideas.


                          Here are some ways to support and give back to your community:

                          1. Check-in on your loved ones and friends through video chat, text or phone
                          2. Pick up groceries for your neighbours and friends
                          3. Be kind and thank your local post office or postal service employees for their hard work during this hectic season
                          4. Buy a Puzzle to support a business - about
                          5. Buy merch to support your favourite Toronto shops - BlogTo article 
                          6. Support Black-owned businesses, here is a list of 100 Black-owned Businesses to support - BlogTo article
                          7. Ten books to read by Black Toronto authors - BlogTo article
                          8. Alternative book delivery options to support in Toronto - BlogTo article
                          9. Support artists and creatives by buying directly from them [if you are able to]

                          GREAT CAUSES TO DONATE TO [if you can]

                          Many of these great causes can be donated to, but I am sure they also appreciate any time you are able to donate virtually to help them stay organized through the backend. You can always e-mail them to see if there are other ways for you to help out.


                          • Donate blood
                          • Donate gently used goods to your local schools
                          • BlogTo has compiled a great list of places you can donate to now. Click here to read the full list and here are some of the direct links:

                          Donate to the Toronto Public Library Foundation

                            • Many people do not have access to the internet, computers or other forms of technology. When you donate to the Toronto Public Library Foundation, you help connect people to their loved ones during COVID-19 through technology they did not have before.
                            • Donate books that you no longer need

                          Support Chai Lifeline Canada

                            • Chai Lifeline Canada helps support families that have children that are going through a severe illness by stepping in and helping them with whatever they may need - meals, camp, financial assistance, etc.
                          • Help sponsor a family meal for families with children living with pediatric illnesses; click here for more.
                          • COVID-19 Resources
                          • Donate your hair

                          Donate to Yonge Street Mission

                            • Yonge Street Mission offers free counselling to those in need, food, housing assistance, etc.
                            • They are trying their best to navigate through the pandemic, but like many people, they have been hit hard. Click here to see what they are focusing on and how you can help.

                          Support Unison Fund 

                            • Unison Fund is a non-profit charity that helps support professional musicians through counselling, emergency relief and financial aid.

                          Support smaller humane societies

                            • Many animals are up for adoption and can sometimes have hundreds of people applying to adopt one animal; many humane societies offer adoption services that may not get as much attention.
                            • The Mississauga Humane Society is a smaller non-profit that needs help covering the costs of medical bills, vaccine shots, etc., before an animal is given up for adoption.
                            • You can also donate your time virtually by helping them get donations from donors.


                          When you order food from your favourite restaurants, if you can, order directly from their site. Uber Eats and other food ordering apps take a considerable percentage from the restaurants for delivering their food; this can be up to 35%; click here for more stats and info. Let's dive into COVID friendly ways to give back to the food community:

                          Volunteer to deliver food

                            • In Toronto, a group of people are volunteering to help provide food from restaurants; check the full list here

                          Compile a list of direct delivery restaurants

                            • Councillor Mike Layton in Toronto compiled a list of restaurants that have delivery directly from their locations; this helps reduce the number of service fees they get from delivery apps. Check out the Toronto list here; they also created a google map.
                            • Create a list in your community of restaurants that you can order directly from.

                          Support the Ambassador App

                            • Joe told me about this app, and it sounds amazing; Ambassador is an app that was created in Toronto by a local restaurant owner that wanted to remove delivery apps out of the picture.
                            • Nav Sangha created this app, and it has a monthly fee of $99 to make delivering food from your site easy and replaces the use of delivery apps.

                          Use Other Food Apps

                          Create/Support a Community Fridge

                            • Community Fridges are set up outside and are used to stock food for people in need; anyone is welcome to take or add anything to or from the fridge when they need to.
                            • These have started popping up in Toronto, and their motto is "take what you need and leave what you can," click here to check it out and here to see their Instagram for inspiration/resources.
                            • This is something that happens all around the world; click here to see if there's a location near you or in case you want to support or set one up.

                          Buy local and support small grocery stores

                          Volunteer to work in a kitchen that helps make food for those in need

                            • Kitchen 24, which is based in Toronto, uses its space to make food for those in need; it is a huge kitchen that allows for social distancing during COVID-19; this location is also great for small businesses that need to rent a kitchen space.
                            • You can donate or volunteer at their kitchen and to see how they are making it work, click here.

                          Support restaurants that are giving back

                            • Little India Restaurant in Toronto is giving back to the community by making meals for those in need; click here to donate meals to people in the community.

                          Support a Virtuals Farmers Market

                            • With many Farmers Markets now closed due to COVID-19, Kendall Hills Farm decided to set up a Virtual Farmers Market to help support themselves and other farmers during the pandemic.
                            • You are now able to purchase fresh produce directly from local farmers; click here to check out the Virtual Farmers Market.

                          Use Food Rescue to donate extra food

                            • Food Rescue is created through Second Harvest and focuses on picking up any excess food from grocery stores and restaurants to help redistribute extra food to non-profit organizations throughout Canada.

                          Support your local food bank

                            • The Daily Food Bank helps provides meals for people in Toronto; they are an essential service and are still open; they can use all the help they can get - click here to check out their volunteer opportunities; they also accept donations.
                            • You can organize a food drive in your community by registering online and placing a box within your neighbourhood.
                            • Here is a list that BlogTo has compiled of food banks you can donate to; click here to see it.


                          RESOURCES FOR YOU

                          It's definitely been a tough year, and it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Here is a list of resources to help you get through this season:

                          The Library

                            • If you have a library card, you can still order books from the Library by appointment only [within Ontario, Canada].
                            • The Library is a great resource to use their online tools, audiobooks, online magazines and free online classes. Here is information about the Toronto Public Library's Online Programming.
                            • Here is an article I found of 10 free ways the Toronto Public Library can help you during COVID-19.

                          Free Courses

                          Watch Hot Docs at home

                            • Hot Docs is a Canadian cinema that showcases documentaries 
                            • They currently have online streaming available for a 30-day free trial; after the trial, you pay a monthly fee of $4.99 to help support this Canadian Cinema.
                            • If you are unable to pay the monthly fee, they have a full list of places you can watch their documentaries through other providers; click here to check it out.

                          Live Streams and Virtual Concerts

                            • Billboard announces weekly concerts and live streams that are happening during the COVID-19 crisis, click here to check it out.
                            • Any artists on Song Kick will have announcements of when they are live-streaming their concerts; click here to check it out.
                            • Song Kick also has a live streaming section so that you can watch it live from one place.

                          Need to talk to someone?

                            • The city of Toronto has compiled a great list of free resources for people of diverse backgrounds; check it out here.

                          If you made it to the end or skimmed through this blog post, thank you for checking it out. I hope these resources were helpful for you, and please let us know if there are any that we missed or you would like to add; the more we know, the more we can try.  

                          We hope you are staying safe and healthy during this holiday season and take some time to yourself to rest up, it's been a tough year, and we know you've been trying your absolute best, even if that means just being! Remember, if you are unable to pay it to forward this season, that is entirely okay; it's all about showing up in the ways you can, even if it is sharing your fave businesses or supporting from the sidelines. We are so grateful to have such a supportive and engaging community; we could not do it without you!
                          See you in 2021, and stay safe!

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