World AIDS Day is Over – Now What?

“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free”
– Robert Brault

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a global event designed to increase awareness of HIV, the fight to eradicate the disease, and the people living with it every day. I marked World AIDS Day by attending AIDS Vancouver’s Red Ribbon Awards honouring pioneers in HIV research, and those people who for years have been dedicated to supporting the HIV community.

It was a lovely, moving event. And it’s over.

But the need to help this vulnerable community isn’t.

AIDS Vancouver will be holding its annual Holiday Grocery Day on Tuesday, December 15th from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, with the goal to provide festive food to 700 people, on this single day.

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How can you help?

Volunteer your time. There’s a need for Holiday Grocery Event Day Volunteers  on December 14th for set-up, and again on the 15th during the event.

Make a donation online, by mail, or in person. Cash donations ensure that the AIDS Vancouver Grocery Program can continue to operate all year round.

Donate in-kind, or become a sponsor. Contact Heidi Morgan, Grocery Coordinator, by email at heidim@aidsvancouver.org, or phone: 604-696-4678.

AIDS Vancouver is located at 803 East Hastings St., Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A 1R8. Hours of operation are 9 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday.

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I plan to be there, camera in hand. Can you spare some time, or give to this cause?

Help CBC Help the Hungry

I’m a self-confessed CBC Radio nerd. I figure I’ve been listening non-stop for at least the last 40 years! The voices of CBC legends Peter Gzowski, Bill Richardson, Arthur Black, Vickie Gabereau and Barbara Frum still make me smile, even though I haven’t heard them on-air for years.

And I love my local CBC heroes in Vancouver – I never miss Rick Cluff on Early Edition, Gloria Macarenko on BC Almanac and Stephen Quinn on On the Coast during the week. It’s those people I and so many of my fellow Vancouverites will flock to see on Friday December 4 at CBC Vancouver’s annual Open House in support of Food Banks BC.

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There’s never, ever been a more important charity to support.  Did you know that in BC, 100,086 individuals are relying on a food bank each month – and one out of three of these people is a child?

Last year through the national food sharing system, Food Banks BC distributed more than 1.8 million pounds of food worth close 4.5 million dollars to its 97 food banks throughout the province! Additionally through its BC Share program each year, Food Banks BC receives more than 1 million dollars of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

So, come down to the CBC Vancouver studio at 700 Hamilton St., meet your favourite personalities, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day and tour the CBC studios.

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And donate, please. You can donate online any time starting now.

The pledge lines will be open on Dec. 4 from 5 a.m. – 6 p.m. PT
Onsite donations will be accepted at CBC Vancouver: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

I’ll be there for most of the day – with my camera, of course.

Hope to see you there, Vancouver!

 

It’s Time for Kindness

It’s getting close to the holiday season, a time of giving and receiving, of joy and family and good cheer. But it’s not a happy time for many people, who may be homeless, poor, hungry and struggling.

It’s time for all of us to be kind, to give back. And I can’t think of a better way than to be part of my friend Marc Smith’s 4th Annual #30DaysOfKindness campaign. Marc has a huge heart, and a keen sense of community, and it’s a testament to his hard work and ability to motivate people that the 30 Days Of Kindness is one of the most popular features of his 30 Day Adventures series.

I participated in the 30 Days Of Kindness last year, and felt so good about my contribution that I’m doing it again! This year, I’m supporting one of the most inspirational organizations I know – Beauty Night Society, founded by the amazing Caroline MacGillivray. Beauty Night is dedicated to building self-esteem and changes lives of improvished women and youth in Vancouver through wellness programs, life skills development and makeovers.

This month, Beauty Night is in the process of soliciting donated items for 1500 Christmas stockings that are being sewn, decorated, filled and delivered to their clients. The stockings are created by fashion designer Nancy Perreault, and are sewn by volunteers. Other volunteers dressed as elves hand out the stockings at shelters, transition homes, housing locations, drop in centres, and health care facilities.

I’ll be donating a few bags of goodies myself – but I need your help to make this act of kindness the best it can be.

Here’s what we need:

Journals (the most requested item)
Jewelry
Gloves
Socks
Chocolate
Coffee Cards
Granola Bars
Stationary
Body Care Products
Nail Care Products
Dental Care Items
Skin Care Products
Hair Care Products
Makeup Samples

From 2-5 pm on Monday, November 23rd, I’m camping out to accept your donations at one of the most community-minded businesses in my South Hill neighbourhood – Eastside Fitness, located at 5854 Fraser Street at 43rd Ave. Please drop in – I’m happy to take whatever donations you’d like to give! And if you’re unable to make it on Monday, let me know by commenting below, or emailing me. I’ll be happy to facilitate your contribution.

I can tell you from my experience that nothing feels better than offering help, no matter how insignificant it may seem. I have been helped by so many people myself – and I’m forever grateful. The best way to repay people for their kindness is to give back as much as I can as long as I can.

Won’t you join me? Your kindness will never be forgotten.

Time to Spare? Time to Share…

Last year, I was fortunate to discover and lend my support to a charity that was so unique, so creative, that I had to get involved again. Let me tell you about the 3rd Annual Timeraiser Vancouver event that’s happening this coming Thursday, September 23rd at the Roundhouse Community Centre in the heart of Yaletown.

Timeraiser was started in 2002 by a group of friends who wanted to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities in their home community.  It’s blossomed into an annual event that operates across Canada.

It’s a charity with a twist, using a silent art auction as an incentive for what they call “speed dating for volunteerism”. For a $20 ticket, people can view works of local artists, then bid on their favorites. But the currency during Timeraiser isn’t cash, but volunteer hours which are so desperately needed by cultural, social and health agencies.

Participants meet with representatives from more than 25 diverse agencies – including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Canadian Autism Network, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Immigrant Services Society of BC, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation – and match their skills to the needs of the organizations.  Once they decide where they want to get involved, they bid anywhere from 20-125 volunteer hours on their favorite piece of art.  Winning bidders then have 12 months to complete their pledge before they receive the artwork as a reward for their dedication.

So far, Timeraisers have prompted 3,600 Canadians to volunteer, generated more than 45,000 volunteer hours for some 250 different charities, and invested $300,000 in the careers of cutting-edge artists.

Interested? I’d love to see you there. In fact, let me help make that happen.

I have two Timeraiser tickets to give away. Simply comment to this post and tell me why you want to attend, and what volunteerism means to you, and I’ll pick a lucky winner at random tomorrow at 5pm.

It will be my pleasure to meet you there and introduce you to the wonderful, committed people who’ve made this happen for the past three years.

Giving the Gift of Time

Like many people, I sometimes complain about how social media can bring out the worst in people.  But social media also brings out the very best in us.  I’ve seen it Danny Brown‘s remarkable 12for12K campaign, in the two Twestivals I’ve attended in Vancouver – and in the latest charitable event that’s happening this Thursday, September 24th at the Roundhouse in Yaletown – the second Vancouver Timeraiser.

Timeraiser was started in 2002 by a group of friends who wanted to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities in their home community.  Seven years and 10 Timeraisers later, the initiative has grown into an annual event that operates in six cities across Canada.

It’s a charity with a twist, using a silent art auction to raise not money, but something equally as valuable.  Time.  That precious commodity we all have so little of, and is so desperately needed by cultural, social and health agencies that are chronically short of volunteers.

Participants meet with representatives from more than 25 diverse agencies – including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Operation Eyesight, Special Olympics and the Urban Native Youth Association – and match their skills to the needs of the organizations.  Once attendees determine where they want to get involved, they bid anywhere from 20-125 volunteer hours on artwork by some of Vancouver’s most talented emerging artists.  Winning bidders then have 12 months to complete their pledge before they receive the artwork as a reminder of their goodwill.

It’s a unique concept, and it’s captured the imagination of many across the country.  So far, Timeraisers have prompted 3,600 Canadians to volunteer, generated more than 45,000 volunteer hours for some 250 different charities, and invested $300,000 in the careers of cutting-edge artists.

Admission is $20.  I’m going to attend.  I haven’t volunteered in years.  It’s about time I did.  After all, I belong here now:-)

How about you?   For more info, or to register, visit the Timeraiser site here.