I do my best to give back in my community whenever I can, that’s really important to me and I hope something that others try to do as well. Every gesture isn’t a grand gesture—nor does it have to be. Sometimes it’s monetary donations, sometimes it’s a donation of my time. And I usually like to make sure that how I’m giving back lines up with my own passions and interests (doing that guarantees fun times!)
I’m so purrrr-oud (cat pun!) that the Edmonton International Cat Festival I organize has raised $112,000 to local animal rescues since it started in 2014. I LOVE animals so this was a perfect fit. The festival is one of the biggest ways I give back both in terms of my time and money each year, but there’s a lot of smaller, simpler ways to give back year-round that make can make such a huge difference in the lives of those you’re helping.
If you want to give back in the Edmonton area, but you’re not sure what kind of things you can do, I hope this blog post gives some ideas and inspiration, from things you can do as a group to things you can do individually, some things that take a bit more effort, and others that don’t really take a lot of effort at all. Giving back in fun and meaningful ways can be easy!
As a TELUS ambassador (#TELUS_Partner), I’m proud to be aligned with a company that values giving back, and encourages me to, too.
TELUS is actually the Most Giving Company in the World!!
Since 2000, TELUS has donated $1.2 billion (that’s billion with a B!) to charitable organizations in Canada including 1.3 million days of volunteerism. They encourage everyone associated with TELUS (including their social media ambassadors!) to find ways to give back to the community, in big or small ways.
Below, I’m sharing:
Five Fun and Meaningful Ways You Can Give Back in the Edmonton Area
1. Cook a Meal for Families at the Ronald McDonald House
Volunteering to cook a meal at the Ronald McDonald House is a truly special way to give back. The Meals that Mend program encourages groups to prepare a brunch, lunch, or dinner to families who use the House. I’ve actually been cooking a meal for the House as a birthday tradition every year since 2014! You don’t have to be a professional cook by any means. You just have to gather a group of friends, decide on what you want to cook (for typically 40-60 people), get and split the cost of groceries, then cook!
Often the families who use the Ronald McDonald House are so tired, so stressed, so far from home and so worried about their child who is receiving critical, specialized care, the last thing they should worry about is making their meals for the day. That’s why volunteering to cook a meal for the. House is so meaningful.
2. Walk or Foster Rescue Dogs
Did you know most animal rescues rely almost entirely on volunteers to operate? If you’re an animal lover, you can likely find a volunteer opportunity with a rescue. At the Edmonton Humane Society, you can volunteer to walk the dogs so they get exercise and socialization. I know friends who foster dogs and cats through rescues like hart (Humane Animal Rescue Team) and Zoe’s Animal Rescue.
At the TELUS Creator Summit I attended in June 2019, our group got a chance to volunteer with PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society), an incredible group who breed, raise and train fully certified assistance dogs who provide life-changing support for those living with disabilities across Canada.
3. Deliver Food for Meals on Wheels
This is a volunteer opportunity I only first experienced this summer (2019) and am really trying to tell more people about, and look forward to giving back to this group in more regular ways year-round.
Meals On Wheels is an amazing charity that provides home-delivered meals and food services to typically home-bound Edmontonians or people with limited mobility.
Meals on Wheels makes over 700 meals a deal and requires 27 drivers (delivery volunteers) each day. They rely solely on volunteers to operate, and donations to help subsidize meal costs for low-income clients.
There are lots of other volunteer opportunities within the organization, but I really liked meeting people on my delivery route. For many of Meals on. Wheels’ clients, the delivery volunteer might be the only socialization or human contact they get that day—which is terribly heartbreaking but also makes it such an important way you can give back. That conversation you have, the smile you give, the food you drop off, it can literally make someone’s day (including your own!)
4. Take Simple Steps Around Your Home To Help The Birds
Listen, you might be thinking, wait what? But truly there are always simple things you can do around your home that can help the community, whether it’s sorting out old clothes to give to shelters or in this example—little actions you can take to help our bird community.
There are nearly 400 bird species in Alberta today but they face lots of threats including habitat loss, climate change, windows (really!) and increasingly outdoor cats. Simply putting out a bird house in your yard or on your balcony, making sure your outdoor cats are leashed and wearing a bell or brightly coloured collar, and putting decals on your windows, can all make a difference in helping birds rest and stay safe on their travels.
During a TELUS Give Where We Live volunteer opportunity with the Nature Conservatory of Canada, me and Diana (204 Park) learned about these very simple steps you can take around your home to help the bird population, including building a bird house (which I’ve painted yellow and put out in my yard!)
5. Spend Time With the Elderly
This is something I’d like to do this year. I get so sad when I read about loneliness in Canadian seniors, how many rarely get visitors, even beyond Canada—stories about how an elderly person might pass away but no one knows for months or even years because at that point the person wasn’t in contact with anyone anymore. That’s so incredibly sad.
There’s a lot of ways you can volunteer with seniors in your community. You can be an activity leader or become a life enrichment instructor. You can go for walks or read to them. My friend’s sister brought their family dog to visit a seniors home (I’d LOVE to get Olive certified as a therapy dog… she’d be a great one!) If you have something in mind that you’d like to do, you can literally just ask if you can do it with the seniors, many seniors homes welcome any volunteer request!
Those are really just a few ways to give back in the community, make a difference and have fun while doing it.
Those are also examples more geared towards my interests and experiences. Maybe you like motorcycles. Or crafting. Running. Or maybe dancing. There’s probably some kind of volunteer activity out there that suits what you’re passionate about it. And there’s lots of ways to give back to the community that doesn’t require cutting a big cheque!! Your time, experience, enthusiasm, it’s all really valuable. I also enjoy following charities on social media and seeing what they’re up to—often you’ll find opportunities to help just by seeing something pop up on your feed. For instance in July, I see a lot of social posts about the Bissell Centre’s #DropYourGonch underwear campaign for Edmontonians who are homeless. This reminds and encourages me to go pick up some new underwear to donate to the cause!!
Social media posts = donations! lol.
However you choose to give back in your community, just choose to do it!
Take a page out of TELUS’ book and Give Where We Live!
You’ll likely find it enriches your life as much as it does the group you’re helping!!
And hey, if dogs can be involved that’s a big bonus, lol.
Disclaimer: As a year-round #TELUS_Partner, I’m often sharing all the things I love about TELUS, including how it is the Most Giving Company in the World! This does not impact opinions stated in this post. I’m so proud to be a TELUS ambassador and I love finding ways to give back to the community (as does TELUS!)