My season of gratitude and giving
- Posted on December 22, 2015
There is something about the holiday season that catapults people into a giving mood, be it through time, money, or gifts. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been interested in helping others. Every spring our old and forgotten toys were gathered and ultimately donated to a camp for under privileged children. I smile and feel a sense of gratitude when I think back to those times. And it did not stop there. Each holiday season we were taught the spirit of giving through the Christmas Angel Tree. With family money in hand, we were given the task of sponsoring a family and would spend many hours acquiring the perfect gift. I also fondly remember my end of year school trip where, in true “Lesly” fashion, I raised enough funds to send myself and two additional classmates, who due to financial circumstances would not have been able to partake. I guess you could say it’s a part of who I am.
During my University years at Carleton I joined a sorority - Phi Sigma Sigma - where I partnered with organizations including CIBC Breast Cancer Run for the Cure, UNICEF and the Ottawa Food Bank. More recently I joined the National Capital Region Sponsorship team at Dress for Success, where I am involved in promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women. Women helping women is something I pride myself on, and it doesn’t stop with DFS, as I was just approved to be a mentor with The Aspire Foundation through Avanade!
While all of these organizations are amazing – there is one that is near and dear to my heart- Smiles for Seniors. This organization identifies seniors living below the poverty line, or without a family. We all know the holidays can be daunting enough when you have a support system, imagine if that wasn’t there? As ‘Head Elf’, I assist identifying those in need and match seniors with willing gift participants to ensure they receive a gift they can enjoy. This year I made a plea to my family, friends, work colleagues, dog park enthusiasts – anyone that could to join in supporting a senior through this holiday endeavor. I am happy to announce that with the support of my global network we raised enough money to provide smiles for 75 seniors in the Ottawa community. (On a personal note, if you are interested in adopting a senior next year, the goal is to double the number of smiles to 150. So please note I’ll gladly accept donations).
I know I am not alone in my volunteer commitment striving to make a difference through community organizations. In fact, there are so many great causes to partner with and remember this does not have to be a financial commitment. The Aspire Foundation is a great way to get involved with a limited time commitment of only an hour a month. I challenge you to make a small difference in your life!
I wish you many smiles as you spend time with your family this holiday season.