It’s time for the Wish & Give March Break Charity Challenge

Home for 3 weeks? We’ve got you covered!

It’s time for the 3rd Annual Wish & Give March Break Charity Challenge!  And in Ontario we have 3 weeks to complete the challenge!

We’ve come up with the 5 top challenges for kids of all ages to accomplish over March Break.

Goal setting is so good for kids!  Goals are a great way to keep kids learning, motivated and feeling good.

And even better by reaching the goal? Kids are fundraising for their favourite cause!  Canadian charities need our support more than ever right now. And it feels good to give back! Every March Break Challenge is a fundraiser for your favourite cause.

So, what is your kid’s stretch goal?  Think of something so big that you would sponsor them too!  The past few years our kids have been motivated to reach huge goals in reading or learning a new skill. They’ve each chosen goals that impressed me enough to sponsor them!  And now they plan all year what their March Break goal will be!

Top 5 Challenges to try:

Reading 
How many books can your child read in the next 3 weeks?  This works for any age, whether it’s learning to read or reading full novels.  Is it 10, 20 or 50 books?  Pick a big goal, they really can do it!

Exercise
It’s never been a better time to get outside!  The weather is mild and social distancing works well outdoors.  How far can they run or bike?  Set a big goal and train for it.  Maybe it’s learning to bike or biking 20km for the first time.  Grandma will be proud to sponsor this goal!

Learn something new
3 weeks is plenty of time to pick up a new skill.  Is it baking, cooking, doing the laundry or knitting a hat?  Encourage your children to learn something new.  Be sure to post pictures with the hashtag #MarchBreakCharityChallenge so we can celebrate these new skills!

Daily routines
No better time than now to start a healthy daily routine and do it every day for 3 weeks!  Is it making the bed every day, cleaning the house, putting away toys daily, or helping mommy and daddy.

Math
Time off from school is perfect for brushing up on new math skills. Is it telling time, multiplication tables, adding, division, fractions?  Set a big goal and get to work!

It’s easy to set up your March Break Charity Challenge at www.wishandgive.ca

  1. Simply log in
  2. Select ‘Invitation’
  3. Choose your charity
  4. Create your invitation – name your prize in the group gift section
  5. Send the URL to your friends and family and ask them to sponsor you (tip…don’t enter the email addresses online, just sent the URL)

For more information on how to set up your March Break Charity Challenge ‘invitation’ click here: March Break Charity Challenge Tool Kit. The tool kit provides a step by step process.

I’d love to hear what your family is going to do for your challenges?  Please share more ideas below.

Have fun!! And thanks for giving back this March Break!  The world is better because of you!

Be sure to tag #MarchBreakCharityChallenge so we can celebrate your accomplishments!!

3 Birthday Party Trends – That are here to stay!

Birthdays are a big deal!  And should be celebrated!  Here are 3 trends that we hope/know are here to stay!

1. Group Gifts with a Charitable Donation

No more shopping!!  Woohoo!  This trend is here to stay.  Parents can set up their invitation online through Wish & Give (www.wishandgive.ca) and the guests contribute toward a group gift and to the charity of hosts choice.  A win-win.

Doing everything online saves the guest parent at least an hour, maybe more, from having to drive to the store, pick out a piece of nonrecyclable plastic, find the wrapping paper, wrap it…you get my point.  Plus, it’s environmentally friendly.  The birthday kid can use the cash gift for an experience, one larger gift or save it and learn the value of a dollar.  And we all get to feel great about giving to a local charity.

And don’t forget it’s a great way to teach both the birthday kid and the guest kids the importance of giving back!  Special events turned into important life lessons.  A win-win!

Create your personalized invitation at www.wishandgive.ca

2. Sustainable Loot Bags

What kid doesn’t go giddy over a tiny plastic jar of slime or a plastic slinky, but then it just ends up tossed to the side after a few hours of entertainment.  Not to mention the environmental waste plastic causes.

Candy is another sticky subject.  Do kids really need more sugar after a party?

A few sustainable options we love for loot bags:

  • Books
  • Tee shirt or pajamas
  • Gift card to a local café, ice cream store or bookstore
  • Upcycled plastic toys from www.tinytoyco.com
3. No Cupcakes at School

Save the treats for the party and at home! With 20+ kids in the class, kids are getting extra treats almost every week at school!  Passing out treats is one more time (20 more times) kids with allergies are ‘different’ and can’t partake in the celebration.  A few years ago my school banned treats and I’m all for it!

Still want to do something at school? Have your child pick out a new book for the classroom.  Or talk to the teacher about how they mark this special occasion.  There are lots of ways to make each child feel special without treats involved!

 

How to Reduce Clutter, Prevent Lego-Related Food Injuries and Make a Better World

Maybe you’re the world’s most organized person. Maybe your house is always clean, the laundry is always done, and the children’s toys are in labelled compartments, neatly stored in their rooms.

Or maybe your house looks a little more like mine with a healthy sprinkling of LEGO, books and miscellaneous art projects on almost every surface. I love Christmas, but there is a part of me that looks with unspeakable dread at the piles of toys knowing that more ‘stuff’ has just landed into my home.  The feeling is compounded with one birthday in the fall and the second in late winter! It would be easy to shake my fist at the toy companies, but the problem is that I’m partly responsible, too.  I can’t blame all the stuff on the grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, I also like to shop for them and spoil them on birthdays and holidays.

But sometimes, countless gifts aren’t the best way to show love. Instead of excitement, kids can quickly get overwhelmed by too many choices, bouncing from one gift to the next until they’re sitting in the middle of a pile of toys saying, “I’m bored!”

While it’s amazing and fun to celebrate each other at birthdays (and we should), do we need to celebrate with more stuff?

In October 2017 I launched WISH & GIVE —a different way to celebrate (and save your feet from stepping on discarded toys)!  Each event supports a local charity or non-profit.  It’s not only for children’s parties but grown-up parties too.

By using WISH & GIVE for birthday parties, children still receive a gift, but guests are asked to contribute towards one bigger, more meaningful, gift and to give a donation to charity on the child’s behalf. Imagine this: Instead of your child opening yet another stuffy that will collect dust one day, your child gets something they actually wanted, and they get to feel good about giving back.

What you support is completely up to you! I’d encourage you to sit down together to choose a charity or non-profit to support. You search by postal code to find a charity near you. It’s a great way to discover the amazing things happening right in your backyard. All 86,000+ charities in Canada are on the site and any non-profit can be added (just contact me at info@wishandgive.ca).

By refocusing celebrations, starting with young children, we will raise a generation of thoughtful, caring individuals who are just as concerned about the world around them as they are their own wellbeing.  I’m seeing the fruits of this with the kids who have already used WISH & GIVE for their birthday.

So here is to less stuff (and foot injuries and clutter) and more giving!

Why Do You Volunteer?

Why do you volunteer?

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This quote is on a flip chart in the entrance to my kid’s school, it’s not only cooperation month with the Toronto District School Board, but it’s also National Volunteer Week. This week has me reflecting on what volunteering means to me and to those around me.

Monday, all the parents at my kid’s school, got a desperate plea via email for help with pizza day on Wednesday.  I checked my calendar and finally had that exact 2-hour time slot free, so I responded that I could help.   I showed up for the first time and was amazed at the sheer number of parents who pull off this special day every month for our school.  There were at least 15 of us!  And everyone was busy!

I asked the other parents why the volunteer, not just at the school, but in general.  I’m always impressed with the sheer number of hours some people devote to volunteering from coaching their kids teams to leading a school activity such as pizza day.

Here are some of the amazing reasons why people volunteer:

To say thank you.

Because the lead volunteer asked!

Because people need help.

I love my kids and like seeing them at school.

Volunteering makes me feel good about myself.

To give back to the community.

To get out of the house.

To lead by example.

You shouldn’t always get paid for what you do.

To help out before I start full time work in a couple of weeks.

Why not help if you can?

I love this! Such diverse reasons why others are inspired to give back.

Volunteering plays a huge role in my life. 

I am currently on the board of a food bank in downtown Toronto which is 99% volunteer run.  We rely on volunteers to come 5 days a week to help their fellow citizens access food and meals.  These volunteers inspire me.  They are often clients themselves, on some form of government assistance, yet devote their time to helping others.  One gentleman who has volunteered there for 4 years told me this:

“I come here for the community and the conversation.  It’s a place to belong. Since I am on government assistance, FYFB gives me purpose and a rhythm to my week.”

How do you give back to your community? 

It doesn’t always have to be a huge time commitment to volunteer. Many charities are not set up to host volunteers.  There are other ways to support charities, nonprofits and schools in your community.  Donating food next time you are at the grocery store (look for the Daily Bread yellow bins near the front door) is a quick way to give back.  Or shoveling someone else’s sidewalk. Doing something at your office such as joining a committee or organizing a fundraiser with your co-workers.

Giving financially is also very much needed in the charity and non-profit sector, and sometimes even more appreciated than gifts of time.  I often hear people feeling guilty for not being able to do more volunteer hours.  I try to reassure them that giving financially is sometimes even more important that giving your time.  We all have different roles to play in society.  And that is what makes Canada a great place to live!

Simple Ways You Can Volunteer

It’s National Volunteer Week, so it is a good week to reflect on what volunteering means in your life.  Does it mean spending a whole day with a charity or traveling overseas to ‘lend a hand’?  Not necessarily.  There are lots of other ways to get involved in your community that are helpful to charities and nonprofits and don’t necessarily require a ton of your time.

Small things can make a difference right in your own community. Here are a few ways you can give back:

  1. Help With a Kids Sports Team

Most, if not all, kid sports teams are volunteer led.  Can you coach, arrange the snack list, send out communications to the team?  There are lots of roles within a team or the head office to offer your time and talents.

  1. Help in Your Kids School

There are countless ways parents can help at school, next time you get the desperate email pleas, try to say yes.  Often this only requires an hour or so at a time.  And your kids will love it!

  1. Focus on Your Neighbourhood

Look for ways you can offer your time to help others right on your own street or neighbourhood.  Is it helping someone garden, shovel snow, rake leaves, take out the trash?  Small acts of kindness go a long way for both parties involved.

  1. Focus on Your Office

What team or committee at work can you join?  There are ways to give back right at work, from the health and safety committees to organizing sports teams or fundraising events.   Often food banks or other places will host corporate volunteer days.

  1. Join a Board

There are over 160,000 charities and nonprofits in Canada who need board members with all kinds of skills.  Charity Village or Board Match can help connect your skills with the right board.

  1. Donate Financially

Often charities and nonprofits appreciate financial donations over gifts of your time.  Not every charity is set up to host volunteers.  Think about how you can financially support a local organization.

  1. Fundraise With Your Next Birthday

Use Wish and Give (www.wishandgive.ca) to fundraise for a local charity or nonprofit through your next birthday.  It’s great for kids too, and an easy way to teach them about helping others.

Do All the Good You Can

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox