It starts with putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Figuratively. Literally.
For Laura, that meant recently donating a pair of cherished boots to Haven Toronto, knowing they would help someone though the cold winter days and nights, homeless on the streets of Toronto.
With the boots, Laura included a note that starts out, “I gave these to my Dad to wear on my wedding day. And from that day on, he loved them for the months he had them."
"He would be so honoured for someone to have them," Laura adds. "For these shoes tell many stories of love, highs and lows, loss and luck, giving, courage, and beauty."
When you are donating to any one of the over 170,000 registered charities and nonprofits in Canada, why you give is very personal. Your choice reflects your life; what you have been through and what you are going through.
Helping those less fortunate often means helping ourselves. For some, like Laura, it is part of the grieving process. It can be cleansing, fulfilling and even uplifting during a time of great sorrow. The memories and love live-on, for instance, through donating clothes of a lost loved one.
In the GTA, helping the homeless means helping Haven Toronto. The drop-in centre is the only facility in Canada dedicated to serving elder men age 50+ who have been impacted by poverty and homelessness.
In the last year, Haven Toronto has distributed over 11,000 articles of clothing. Most of it donated. Some from purchases in the charity's online store, www.shophaventoronto.ca.
With each donation comes a personal connection between the donor and the recipient. In this case, the latter are men who have lost their job, suffered a workplace injury, been through death or divorce, and have health issues, any and all of which have left them impoverished, homeless and isolated.
These are men who remind us of fathers, uncles, brothers and sons.
These are men who are used to being stereotyped, overlooked and underserved. To them, a donation is a symbol of hope. Suddenly, they are not in this alone. Others care.
When you donate to organizations like Haven Toronto, you are inspiring those less fortunate to not give up, much in the way Laura inspired others through her note, which concludes with,
"May these boots make you feel protected from the elements life brings. May they give you support to keep moving forward past barriers and hardships. May they give you luck when you need it, through comfort. May they see you wonderful days, joy and accomplishments."
"May these boots tell your story as they did my Dad’s."
"My Dad would want you to have these boots. He would want you to know with these boots you can do anything."
"Leave a footprint, a boot print, each path you take them and know you can change the world with every gift you’ve been given within you."
"From my Dad, Reg, to you.” Signed, Laura.