And last but certainly not least in my twelve days of donating is the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA). VOKRA is a volunteer-run, no-kill rescue organization that helps about 1200 surrendered, abandoned, and feral kittens and cats per year by finding them permanent homes (or, for feral cats that aren’t adoptable, through their trap/neuter/return program). While cats are waiting to be adopted, they live in foster homes rather than a traditional shelter. And, of course, VOKRA is where I found my kitties!
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank provides assistance to nearly 30,000 people every week! That’s a lot of people. And that’s just to support people in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the North Shore (Other food banks serve people in other suburbs around Vancouver).
And while you can donate food to the food bank, the food bank actually really likes it when you give them money because (a) since they buy in large quantities, they can get deals so that $1 will get them $3 worth of stuff, and (b) they can buy what they need to have a variety of food available to people, rather than ending up with a thousand cans of the same stuff.
In addition to the traditional services that one thinks of when they think about a food bank (i.e., providing food), the GVFB realizes that “emergency food as a stand-alone is not a long-term solution. [Their] goal is to build strong, connected communities through the power of food, and [they] employ the principles of sustainability, education and training, and quality nutrition to achieve this goal.”
Some of their programs include:
Project CHEF: Cook Healthy Edible Food: “an experiential, curriculum-based school program aimed at children in kindergarten to grade seven that teaches students about healthy food”
Rescuing Food from local businesses to distribute to individuals and organization.
Among other things, CF Canada funds researchers who are working towards finding a cure. Did you know that the gene for CF was discovered by researchers who were funded by CF Canada, in collaboration with the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in 19891. They also advocate for better care for people living with CF, including advocating for newborn CF screening (which is now provided in all provinces except Quebec) and advocating for public coverage of medications for people living with CF2.
Apologies for the missed posting yesterday! When I went to post last night, I found out that I couldn’t get into my blog! I texted the Overseer of Deb0rking and Tsar of the Nerdery, who figured out that it was one of the plugins that was b0rking my blog, so he deactivated a bunch and now I’m able to get back in! Thanks, Kalev!
I’ll have to do some testing to see if I can figure out which plugin is causing the problem, but that will be another day’s problem. Today, I’m going to post about two more charities that I’ve donated to.
Opt provides clinical services to 30,000 people every year and they are the “only organization training and certifying sexual health educators in Canada”! They also “supports the unrestricted right of all women to choose when and if to have children [… and] the right of young people to receive the sexual health education and services they seek, based on their informed consent.” I believe that work is important and that’s why I’ve donated to this organization.
Another organization that I think does really important work is the Centre for Inquiry Canada. In these times of misinformation and “alternative facts”, I’m glad there is an organization that promotes critical thinking skills and good science and basing policy on evidence.
Another non-profit organization that my class worked with this semester was the New West Hospice Society. This is a relatively new non-profit organization in New Westminster that is working “to provide services and to facilitate processes for those in New Westminster experiencing end-of-life and bereavement”.
Death and dying are a fact of life, but so often we don’t know how to talk about it or how to support people going through it – both people who are dying and those close to them. The Hospice Society is looking to change that.
One of the things that I learned as my students worked with the New West Hospice Society is that there is something called the Compassionate City Charter, which is “a framework to address 13 social changes/sectors to normalize dying, death and loss”. The Society works with partner organizations from a variety of sectors (including schools, trade unions, religious organizations, arts groups, etc.) “to support those at end-of-life to live as fully and comfortably as possible in locations that are conducive and appropriate.”
When my dad died, my mom, sister, and I received a lot of love and support from our family and friends and work colleagues and classmates. But not everyone has that kind of support. The New West Hospice Society is working towards a future where everyone is supported – and everyone knows how to be supportive – around death and dying. And I think that is very important work.
To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
Wikimedia Foundation mission
I use Wikipedia all. the. time. It’s a wealth of information on a huge number of topics and it’s my go-to place to learn the basics on pretty much anything. And it’s clearly a go-to for many people, as it’s one of the top 10 websites in the world! And because it’s completely ad-free, you don’t need to worry that information is being spun, censored, or altered to placate advertisers.
But even for something like Wikipedia that runs primarily with volunteers, there are still costs that need to be covered. Like the cost of servers on which Wikipedia lives, and the cost of software to run it, and legal costs, just to name a few.
And there’s where Wikimedia comes in. It is the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia, as well as other knowledge projects. And the way to ensure that Wikimedia’s work to “give access to knowledge to everyone, for free, forever” succeeds is for those of us can to kick a few dollars their way.
Wikimedia is an American non-profit, so as a Canadian, I can’t get a tax deduction for donating to them, but I think the work they do is important enough that I’m willing to forgo the tax deduction! [↩]
As I’ve mentioned before, my charitable giving “strategy”, well, doesn’t really exist. I typically end up giving to charity when someone I know is doing a fundraiser, like a fun ride or the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Some years I get a lot of asks and end up donating to a variety of charities. But this year, I haven’t seen any asks like that from family and friends. I’m not sure if people have become tired of fun runs or if everyone is just asking on Facebook instead by email and I’ve missed them all. So in the interest of actually doing some giving, I decided to do my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas, featuring one charity per day that I’ll give some money to.
Today I’m starting with the one ask I’ve actually seen from people that I know – specifically, the trainers at my gym. As I have mentioned before, the people at my gym are the best people ever and here’s yet another example. They encourage gym members to donate to the Purpose Society, which is a social services agency located about a block away from the gym. And the trainers have to lift a kilogram for every dollar that is donated. So if we donate $1000, they have to lift 1000 kg! (Not all at once, of course, but enough reps with enough weight so that they’ve listed the total).
As you may recall, my friend Dr. Dan, in addition to his more-than-full-time job as a professor at the U of G, also runs a non-profit organization called Farm 2 Fork (F2F), in which they
“develop tools to help address food insecurity in the City of Guelph, and beyond. In 2012 and 2013 the students developed Farm To Fork – a website that links people who can donate food to the real-time needs of food banks and food pantries, to improve the quality and quantity of food donated. In 2014 the students worked with the Guelph Community Health Centre to develop programs for the Garden Fresh Box program – a program that brings fresh local fruits and veggies to people who need it. This year the students worked with the national charitable organization Meal Exchange to develop tools for their Trick Or Eat campaign. This campaign – which runs in Canada and the US – sees thousands of university students collecting food for the food banks during Halloween.” (Source: D. Gillis, personal communication that I was too lazy to paraphrase and besides, he said it so eloquently in that email!)
Well, F2F is currently running a fundraiser to support those students. While F2F started as a class project, students really have gone above and beyond – they’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, sometimes even volunteering over the summer instead of taking on full-time jobs to, you know, pay for tuition and living and suchlike. If you donate, the money will go to support these students with things like computer equipment, stipends, and travel to go present about/meeting about/etc. the project. If you donate by the end of December the Dean of the College of Physical & Engineering Science at the University of Guelph will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.
So while you are thinking about your end-of-year donations, why not consider donating to F2F?
As you know, I’m a crazy cat lady. As you also know, I adopted Watson and Crick from the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA). They are a charitable organization that require donations to do their work of rescuing and caring for strays and surrendered cats and kittens, providing them with veterinarian care and shelter, and food and litter for the foster families who take care of them until they are adopted. They have two fundraising efforts going on that I thought I’d share with y’all.
First, you can buy the VOKRA 2016 calendar. And you might just recognize the picture of two adorable kitties in the January 11th square of the calendar1.
Second, you can actual get a donation to VOKRA for free by purchasing gift cards for places that you already shop. Basically, you buy a gift card through them and they mail you that gift card for the amount that you paid (e.g., you pay $100 and you get a $100 gift card). They get these cards at a discount (somewhere between 1 and 10% depending on the store) and that amount is what VOKRA gets. So it doesn’t cost you anything and they get money to do their work. Win-win! There’s a tonne of places you can get gift cards for: Safeway, Save-On Food, Thrifty’s, Shoppers Drug Mark, a bunch of gas stations, London Drugs, some pet stores, Chapter’s, Cineplex Odeon, a hole bunch of restaurants, and even some spas! Check out their website for the full list and how to order (You have to click on their order form to see the list).
Watson & Crick thank you for helping their kitty brothers and sisters!
I tried to get their photo on their birthday, September 24th, but someone had already bought that one, so I went with my birthday instead. [↩]
VOKRA, the non-profit organization from which I adopted my kitties, has put out a plea for help. Vancouver has been experiencing an unusually long, hot summer and they are having difficulty keeping their operations centre – where the most vulnerable kitties (sick kitties, new moms and their kittens, and kitties waiting for a foster home) are – cool enough to keep the kitties safe and healthy. Someone donated an industrial air conditioner to them, but they need to raise $10,000 to have it installed.
At the time of writing, they’ve raised just over 1/3 of the money they need. And right now, if you donate, a generous donor will match that donation, up to $5,000. If you are interested in donating, click here!