Looking to spread a little goodwill? Give to these Vancouver charities
Credit: Flickr / tiffieyu

Looking to spread a little goodwill? Give to these Vancouver charities

The start of a new year always brings about self-reflection and resolutions. In addition to the usual vows of eating better, putting down cigarettes for good and getting into shape, why not include a resolution that benefits others too?

Whether it`s volunteering your time for a cause close to your heart, or giving a charitable donation in a friend's name, every little bit helps. There are of course thousands of charities worldwide that are doing great work, but here are a few B.C.-based causes to support.

Cooking Classes for Charity: The Dirty Apron and Soup Sisters

Cooking Classes for Charity: The Dirty Apron and Soup Sisters

For the foodie in your life that wants to give back, give them (or yourself) a gift certificate for a Soup Sisters class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School. For $50 a class, volunteer professional chefs lead participants through an evening of soup-making, where participants help make over 200 servings of soup for local shelters. In exchange for their time, soup-makers receive dinner, wine, new kitchen skills, and the knowledge that a fun evening will have a positive impact. These classes are available year-round, but do fill up quickly.

While you wait, check out the Soup Sisters's published cookbook, which includes recipes from Vancouverites such as Karl Gregg of Big Lou’s Butcher Shop, David Robertson of the Dirty Apron, Meeru Dhalwala of Vij’s and Rangoli, and Alana Peckham of Hart House. Proceeds from the book go towards providing food for Canadian shelters.

Adopt a Killer Whale: Vancouver Aquarium

Adopt a Killer Whale: Vancouver Aquarium

Pollution, overfishing and boat traffic are threats to local whale populations and their fragile underwater environment. By adopting a killer whale with the Vancouver Aquarium, you are helping fund marine research used to save the whales. For between $64-$120 you can choose your own killer whale and learn its history, get an adoption certificate and ID photo, and receive regular newsletters and info. This is a cause that will definitely appeal to kids and nature lovers.

Clothing with a Cause: Obakki Foundation
Credit: Obakki

Clothing with a Cause: Obakki Foundation

Vancouver clothing designer and humanitarian Trina Peake has developed a unique business model: her fashion house, Obakki, funds a non-profit foundation by the same name that aims to provide clean water and education in the Sudan region of Africa.

All profits made from the sale of her fashion pieces are used to absorb the administrative costs of the foundation, and the rest, along with other donations, are used for the creation of water wells, agricultural projects, and school construction in developing Sudan communities. In the last three years alone, the Obakki Foundation has drilled 400 water wells in areas identified by the UN as conflict zones. Whether it’s a beautiful Obakki dress, scarf, water bottle, or a generous donation card, you know your purchase is going towards something good.

Introduce a Child to Sports: Athletics for Kids

Introduce a Child to Sports: Athletics for Kids

All across B.C., hundreds of kids are denied the opportunity to participate in sports due to a lack of funds. Athletics for Kids (A4K) is an organization that provides funding assistance for youths (ages 5-18) to enroll in after-school sports activities. Through sports, kids learn to take part in healthy physical activities that help them build self-esteem, leadership and social skills.

With a $500 donation a child can enroll in hockey, $225 can put a child on a soccer team, and $100 can provide a little one with swimming lessons.

Put Your Old Clothes to Work: Dress for Success Vancouver

Put Your Old Clothes to Work: Dress for Success Vancouver

Going on a job interview is nerve-wracking at the best of times, but even more so if the only thing you have to wear is a pair of ripped jeans. Dress for Success helps low-income and disadvantaged women enter the workforce by providing professional clothing, career services and, perhaps most importantly, a support network.

Women are referred to Dress for Success from homeless shelters, immigration services and job training programs. At the start they`re given an interview outfit, and when they secure a position they can pick through donated items to create a professionally appropriate wardrobe. Monetary donations are always needed, but if you`ve got work clothes hanging in your closet that you don’t wear, donate them to someone who could put them to good use getting a fresh start. For info on clothing drop-off times and locations, check their website. 

Help Kids Put on a Show: Project Limelight

Help Kids Put on a Show: Project Limelight

Non-profit Project Limelight was launched in 2012 by sisters Maureen Webb and Donalda Weaver, who work in the Vancouver film industry. Limelight is a Downtown Eastside initiative that aims to expose kids to the performing arts in order to help them gain confidence, a social circle and a way to express themselves.

There are free programs offered year-round for kids ages 8-15 living in the Strathcona area. Best of all, there are no auditions; all the youth in the neighbourhood are welcome to join and they'll play games, learn theatre skills and put on a show together. The instructors work on a volunteer basis, and the project runs on donations and a small amount of profits from Limelight-owned East of Main Café that also provides meals for each class. You can contribute by making a donation online, going to a performance, or stopping by the East of Main Café for a bite during the year.

Charity Gift Card: Chimp
Credit: Flickr / Carissa Rogers

Charity Gift Card: Chimp

If you can’t decide on charity, why not give charity gift cards and let people choose for themselves?

Chimp is an online organization that allows users to give to any charity in Canada, send money to friends to donate or even raise money as a group for a cause. You can set up an account with the site and then send an amount to a friend or family member. That person will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to give to a charity.

There are a ton of Canadian charities registered with the site and each one has a profile that can be searched for by cause or location. Chimp also has printable cards that you can wrap up to give as a physical gift outside of cyberspace.