Home Regular Contributors Terry O'Flynn Giving Back is a Choice – Choose to Give

Giving Back is a Choice – Choose to Give

Terry O'Flynn.

Edmonton continues to meet the challenges of our current economic climate. We don’t have a choice. Our city and provincial government will continue to address their revenue and expense issues while businesses and citizens wish them the best while juggling our own challenges. Through this, Alberta remains the wealthiest province in Canada and Edmonton is still recognized for its prosperity.

However, despite its overall wealth, not all of Edmonton’s citizens are enjoying the benefits of the province’s economic success. Even though Alberta has the lowest poverty rate in Canada, statistics show that more than 100,000 of Edmonton’s citizens (that’s one in eight Edmontonians)—including 40,000 of Edmonton’s children—are living in poverty.

That translates to one in eight citizens making less than $16,968 per year as a single person, and less than $33,936 per year as a family of four. Most people equate poverty with homelessness, but statistics show that 123,700 of Edmonton’s citizens are working full-time hours while earning less than $15/hr, placing them at or below the poverty line.

Poverty is real. It’s not a choice. It’s always an issue, and it’s an issue felt strongest at Christmas time.

Fortunately, there are enough opportunities for philanthropy in Edmonton that giving back to those who need it most at this time of the year isn’t a complicated process. Everyone can find the time to volunteer, give back, donate, or attend charity events. Thankfully, no matter the current state of the economy, Edmonton’s residents and businesses have, historically, always been very generous.

Giving back doesn’t need to be restricted to the largest corporations or the wealthiest individuals. For instance, even small businesses can organize their own toy drives or donate and deliver warm coats to our city’s shelters. In addition, many charitable organizations, like the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton and Santas Anonymous, offer a range of ways to contribute to their efforts, from donating funds to donating some of your time – or both.

For individuals who want to make a difference, contribute $50 to a charity like Adopt a Teen or donate food or cash to a shelter. Every child and every parent should feel equal and included, especially at Christmas.

It may not seem like much, but if enough people make even the most minimal donations of their time and/or cash they are able to part with, it will make a big impact. For instance, the funds raised by Adopt a Teen helped 6,000 to 7,500 teens, from ages 13 to 17, receive a gift for Christmas. Last year alone, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton provided meals to 39,137 individuals. Of those individuals, 14,867 were children under the age of 12, and 4,702 were teenagers. On a daily basis, Hope Mission provides 800 people with emergency care, over 1,000 meals, and shelter for more than 500 people.

None of us can singularly make sense of and solve the devastating issue of poverty, but together we can help ease the burden at Christmas and throughout the year. Find a charity that resonates with you this Christmas. There is lots to choose from. Please make the choice to give back. It’s the best way to make the holiday season more meaningful for everyone.