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September 20, 2018

Showing Your Local Love is easier than you think

love does not look like a person
love is in our actions
love is giving all we can
even if it's just the bigger slice of cake

rupi kaur, the sun and her flowers

People often tell me they admire all the volunteering I do in the community and all the causes I support. I don't do it for their admiration, but I appreciate it. Then they tell me they'd love to do something, but they don't know where to start. 

This got me thinking. 

Finding a cause to support, lending your hand -- and your heart -- isn't a treasure hunt. And yet, when you do find the opportunity for you, it will feel like you struck gold. There are many, many causes right under your nose in your community; I'm willing to bet you know they're there, too.

For me, it was the Vaughan Food Bank. 

My family has lived in Vaughan for more than 30 years, and I had never been to our local Food Bank. I've SAID I wanted to go, but I've never joined a group, never called them up. And while I know we've been supporting the Food Bank through our church and schools for years, I still didn't really understand the need. And so I learned.

The other day, I gave Peter Wixson, long-time Executive Director of the Vaughan Food Bank, a call. We had met many times, and I was (and am still) a little embarrassed I hadn't visited yet. Peter invited me in for a tour, to see the new facility and to show me the process of receiving donations and supporting local families. 

Local families. 
In my own community. 
In our city. 

Peter explained the generosity of many local companies and organizations who go to the Food Bank to volunteer or donate, and yet the shelves are emptied every week. The need is great. 

Local Vaughan families qualify to be recipients at the Food Bank, and when they do, they visit and collect their groceries from the pantry; unlike many Food Banks, here they are able to select what their family needs.

I asked Peter how many families the Vaughan Food Bank supports; they don't count it that way, he said. Instead, he nods when he explains it's tens of thousands of meals every single year. Think about that.

As the busy season for the Food Bank looms, with organized collections at Thanksgiving and 600 hampers filled at Christmas, Peter reminded me the Vaughan Food Bank works year-round. And there is always a need.

And so naturally, I asked how I could help. 
There are so many ways. 
And now that I know, I'm sharing with everyone.

Donate. Donate non-perishable food, grocery cards, money. The Food Bank also collects brand-new clothing and shoes, books, toys and activities. If you're selling something, consider donating the funds back to the Food Bank, or purchase items to donate. 

Volunteer. Everyone who works at the Vaughan Food Bank is a volunteer. Handlers are needed to receive packages, stock shelves, help clients with their groceries. Companies and groups can also spend a few hours and help sort and stock. Think of it as Team Building from the heart. 

Don't Forget. The Vaughan Food Bank is literally 10 minutes from my home. I've driven by hundreds of times. Don't forget about it. Tell your friends and family how great the need is. It's literally right in our backyard.

I promised Peter I would be organizing a group of people to come and sort food. I joked I was going to post it on the internet. (I'm posting on the internet!) But you don't need to wait for me to organize something. Do it. Own it. 

I've always believed that knowledge is power, and that's one of the main reasons I created this space -- to share my findings.

So, in honour of Local Love, I'm urging everyone to look around and find that cause that you have not yet supported, learn about it, and lend a heart. It can be a local charity, a food bank, a school council, a neighbourhood clean up. 

One small good deed can make a big impact on someone else's life.

It's time to Show Your Local Love, and if you need more ideas, visit, a fabulous website filled with inspiring ways you can give back in your own community. Sign up for weekly The Good News Letter – it’s a super short, simple round-up of three things: something to inspire, something to learn and something to try. 

And if you want to join me at the Vaughan Food Bank, you're all invited. Send me a note and I'll make it happen. It's time we use whatever time we have in our busy lives to help others.

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Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Local Love and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

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