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Where to donate to help Metro Vancouverites, animals in need over the holidays

Find out how you can brighten the holidays for those less fortunate.
There are numerous places in Metro Vancouver, B.C. that are asking for donations leading up to Christmas Day 2023.

'Tis the season to be merry and get in the spirit of giving. 

There are numerous ways to give back this year across the Lower Mainland to make the holidays brighter for those in need, including giving gifts, attending charitable events, or making cash donations. 

Have a look at some of the ways you can support animals and people across Metro Vancouver this holiday season. 

Carousel Theatre's 2023 'Lighting Up Hearts & Minds' Holiday Fundraiser

Photo via Carousel Theatre

Carousel Theatre (CTYP) has launched its annual giving campaign to raise $15,000 in support of its year-round drama programs and imaginative theatre experiences. 

Frow now through Dec. 31, the theatre company will be showing a production of Snow White at the Waterfront Theatre. In line with its holiday production, the company will raise funds and offer the chance for patrons to win one of three coveted prizes. 

Prices include a cast meet and great and set tour of Snow White, free entry and a carousel ride at the PNE or Vancouver Christmas Market, and a Christmas hamper bursting with goodies, generously stocked by the retailers of Granville Island Public Market.

All donations of $100 and over will receive named recognition on the CYTP website and applicable print material. 

Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau

This organization has been collecting toys for kids during the holidays since 1930, remarking that the magical time of year "should be a happy time for everyone, especially for children."

Each year, the bureau distributes over 100,000 toys to other bureaus and agencies across the Lower Mainland and 2,000 directly to children in low-income families.

You can help put a smile on a child's face by making a donation online.

BC Children's Hospital 

Donations made to the BC Children's Hospital enable experts to continue to transform the future of child health.

The charity says donations go toward vital things such as transformative new equipment, fund programs that help families, and accelerate research aimed at finding the next breakthrough.

Support Affordable Housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside | Chinatown Foundation 

The Chinatown Foundation is asking for donations to help them complete a 10-storey social housing project in the Downtown Eastside that will provide 231 new affordable homes for families, couples, and individuals. 

This new facility will also house the Lily Lee Community Health Centre, which will be operated by Vancouver Coastal Health. This integrated health centre will serve the DTES community by providing critical services, such as specialized mental health and addiction care.

A Community Partnerships Program will also offer resources and "opportunities in wellness, life skills, and experiences," according to the Chinatown Foundation.

All donations made by Dec. 31 will be issued tax receipts in time for inclusion with your 2023 Income Tax return. 

Main St. Brewing 

Main St. Brewing will kick off its fourth annual Miracle on Main Street Toy Drive on Friday, Dec. 1 at the Mount Pleasant brewery (261 E 7th Ave.). The event runs through Tuesday, Dec. 12 and benefits the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

Every guest that drops off unwrapped toys, games, sporting goods, or gift cards with a minimum value of $10 will receive a complimentary flight of four Main St. flagship beers — Naked Fox IPA, Main St. Pilsner, Secret Krush Lager, and Kingpin Pale Ale — as well as entry into a series of a dozen prize draws taking place Dec. 12 through Dec. 24.

All winners will receive a six-pack of Main St. beer and a $50 gift card to local merchants in the Mount Pleasant area like AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint, CóMo Taperia and Smitty’s Oyster House on Main Street. Every person who enters (and is over the age of 19) will be entered into the draw for the grand prize of Main St. beer for a year (one flat of Main St. beer per month beginning in January 2024), to be announced on Sunday, Dec. 24.

All donations made to the Miracle on Main Street Toy Drive will be delivered to the women's centre prior to its annual Children’s Christmas Party on Dec. 16.

The women's centre is one of the few safe spaces within the DTES exclusively for self-identified women and their children. It provides practical support to hundreds of people on a daily basis, including refuge and shelter from conditions of poverty and violence, hot meals, free clothing, mailing addresses, phone and computer access, and secure toilets and showers.

People who are looking to share extra support can also donate items that are on the women's holiday wish list, including slippers, blankets and throws, winter wear (gloves, hats, scarves), clothing (socks, pajamas, underwear), toiletries (lip balm, hand cream, make-up, body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, and combs) as well as backpacks and school/art supplies.

Shoebox Project for Women

Photo via The Shoebox Project

The Shoebox Project for Women collects and distributes gift-filled shoeboxes to women impacted by homelessness. On any given night, about 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness, and women, particularly Indigenous women, are disproportionately at risk of homelessness. 

Many women experience homelessness after fleeing challenging circumstances, such as intimate partner violence. What's more, data shows that
"about 96% of homeless women have experienced some form of violence."

Over the holidays, The Shoebox Project for Women’s mission is to lift these women up with shoeboxes that say, “We see you." 

The charity started in Toronto but the founders say the response from the recipients continues to be the same across the country: the shoeboxes make them feel valued, respected, and connected to the community. 

“Being forgotten is something I’m used to,” said a shoebox recipient in Calgary. “People walk by every day, and never see me. I am always cold and I always feel alone. Today, when I walked in here, I was met with bright smiles and handed a beautiful shoebox. As I opened it, feeling the love with each corner that is beautifully wrapped, I gasped. Today, I get to be beautiful. Today, I am seen.” 

The shoebox contains an assortment of items totalling roughly $50 in value that includes things like "skin and hair-care products, self-care items, cozy items like scarves, mittens, toques, maybe a journal and a pen, along with a greeting of support – –little reminders that she is thought of and cared for," explains the charity.

In 2023, the charity will run a three-week drive between Nov. 20 and Dec. 13 to gather donations. Find a drop-off location on their website. 

Whoville Corner

Every year, this Vancouver house transforms into a dazzling Christmas display. Everyone is welcome and all the owners ask for is a donation for the Surrey Food Bank, whether it's non-perishable food items or a monetary donation. 

Bosley’s by Pet Valu

Photo via Bosley’s by Pet Valu

Bosley’s by Pet Valu is selling calendars for charity that include two furry best pals that were selected from over 40,000 entries for its fundraising calendar.

A blue-eyed pup named Jasper appears on the cover and a sweet-faced Hedgehog named Henry steals hearts as the March model in the 2024 Companions for Change calendar.

"Making the calendar was a highly competitive process with numerous selection rounds and the top 100 finalists going to a public vote. In addition to Jasper and Henry, the calendar contains photos of 15 Canadian pets including dogs, cats, a KuneKune piglet, and guinea pigs," Bosley's said.

The calendar is available in all of Bosley's pet stores across B.C. for a "give-what-you-can" donation. One hundred per cent of the donations go to Bosley’s by Pet Valu’s Companions for Change initiatives, which have raised more than $26 million to support Canadian animal rescues and charities.

Greater Vancouver Food Bank

You can help families in need by making a donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank's (GVFB) online or by cash, cheque, credit, and debit at its Winston Street main office (located in Burnaby) on Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

The GVFB's Virtual Food Drive also allows individuals and groups to raise money through an online food drive. Instead of asking for another holiday gift, you could ask your guests to donate in lieu of gifts. Alternatively, you can raise funds with your co-workers at the office, your club, your sports team, as a family project, or with a group of friends. 

There are also several events running through the holiday season that support the GVFB. 

Stocking Stuffers for Seniors

Get a gift tag from the Christmas tree at the nearest London Drugs store to find a wish list from a local senior, or a general wish list from a participating care home, and purchase or bring the new, non-gift-wrapped items with the gift tag to the store.

You can also include a personalized card with your gift. Gifts are then delivered to local care homes, spreading around the holiday spirit. 


Photo via BC SPCA

The BC SPCA is asking for donations early this holiday season. An anonymous long-time supporter will match donations made to the charity up to $16,000 as part of Giving Tuesday. 

Donations made by animal lovers will help support numerous animals in need, such as a three-year-old puppy named Wiley who was abandoned in a city park. The young canine was "unable to stand" and appeared deaf and blind. However, his loving foster mom cared for him and he's blossomed into a joyful doggo with a "heart of gold" who makes the "perfect companion."

Wiley's story is only one of thousands that the BC SPCA says makes them believe "miracles really are possible." 

Donations can be made online with the organization as a one-time payment or in monthly installments.

Vancouver Firefighter Charities

Through the Lloyd & Elsie Campbell Foundation, the Vancouver Firefighter Charities has been named as the recipient of a legacy fund donation specifically dedicated to providing children with toys during the holidays.

The firefighters will also host a Christmas Wish Breakfast the Pan Pacific Hotel at 999 Canada Place from 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13. If you bring an unwrapped gift you will receive a complimentary breakfast.

Hanukkah Hamper

The program was created by Jewish Family Services for people in the community to support families in need to celebrate Hanukkah.

Donor families are matched with an anonymous recipient family and can put together a hamper based off of information about the family. 

With files from Maria Diment