This season, don’t just ask what your children want to get for Christmas, ask how they want to give. When children are involved in the gift-giving process, they learn the joys of contributing and helping others. Whether your family can give time, clothing, food, gently used/new toys or cash this holiday season, there are many ways to help others. Here’s a sampling of charity drives, not-for-profit organizations’ wish lists and how your family can help an individual, family or group this season.

Create Your Own Ways to Give. Talk to your kids about the ways your family can help others in your community. Some ideas:

Organize a Fundraiser. Rally friends, neighbours and family to organize a fundraiser—maybe a garage sale, bake sale or bottle drive—and donate the proceeds to one of the following organizations or another of your choice.

Volunteer Your Time. Visit a senior’s home, help with snow removal (or in this climate, rake leftover leaves or clean gutters), or gather a group to go carolling and spread holiday cheer throughout your neighbourhood.

Through the C-Fax Santas Anonymous Toys, Games & Gifts Program, you can donate a gift to a child in need (names are provided through the Christmas Bureau). Pick a gift request listed on the paper bears hung on Christmas trees at Mayfair Shopping Centre, Hillside Centre and Westshore Town Centre. Purchase the gift and volunteers will wrap and prepare packages for distribution to the children in time for Christmas morning. Toy drop-off should be done by December 14 in order for Santa to keep to his schedule.

Through CanadaHelps.org, you can donate online to any registered Canadian charity. Search over 80,000 charities and make a donation that is safe, secure and private. If you don’t have a specific charity in mind, you can browse through categories such as Animals, Environment, or International, to name a few. CanadaHelps is your one-stop-shop for giving that makes donating online easy and secure.

In a few simple steps, you can: search for a cause (all Canadian registered charities are listed on the site); make a donation; set up a monthly donation to your favourite charity; start an online fundraising campaign; or give the gift of giving with a Charity Gift Card. Through CanadaHelps, you decide how much to give, who to support, when to give, how often to give and who gets your personal information. To make a donation, visit CanadaHelps.org.

Free The Children, international children’s charity and educational partner, is offering ways to give back to those in need through its Adopt a Village model. Implemented in countries including Ecuador, Kenya and Haiti, Adopt a Village is designed to bring sustainable change by meeting the basic needs of developing communities and eliminating the obstacles preventing children from accessing education. The Adopt a Village is made up of five pillars crucial to community development: education, clean water and sanitation, health, alternative income and livelihood, agriculture and food security.

Give a gift that support families living in impoverished communities overseas by helping them create a sustainable future. Gifts range from $30 to provide a school kit for a child; $50 to provide a goat or a pig to a family as a means of livelihood; to $1000 to help build a school. For more gifts from Free The Children, visit web link.

The Great Gingerbread Showcase is a fun outing and raises funds for the Victoria Habitat For Humanity from Nov 23-Jan 4, 2014 at Laurel Point Inn. Come and view the incredible edible gingerbread creations on display. For a donation you can vote for your favourite to win the People’s Choice Award. The categories are Amateur, Corporate and Professional Chef and have included such creations as a paddle wheeler, winter village and a gingerbread house-for-sale. Habitat For Humanity’s mission is to eliminate poverty through home ownership. Homes are built with the help of volunteers and low-income partner families. For more information, visit web link.

Through The Land Conservancy of B.C. you can Adopt-an-Animal: a grizzly bear, cougar, owl, or salamander for a loved one for $40. The “new parent” receives an adoption kit containing a cuddly plush toy, a personalized adoption certificate and a booklet explaining how this symbolic adoption will help save the specific animal’s habitat and other special places in B.C. You will also receive a $40 tax receipt for every kit you purchase. Or you might like to give a gift certificate for Tea for Two at Abkhazi Gardens for $40 (no tax receipt for gift certificates). For more information, visit web link.

Victoria Women’s Transition House Society’s Making Spirits Bright Christmas Hamper Program helps women who are taking steps to live free of their abusive or violent relationships by matching as they struggle to provide a sense of normalacy for their families at Christmas Time. Thanks to contributions from the community, the Christmas Hamper Program continues to be an incredible display of generosity and kindness. Last year, friends, families and co-workers came together to create and distribute over 100 personalized Christmas Hampers for women and children in the community, yet some recipients were left unmatched. If you’re interested in Making Spirits Bright this Christmas, sign up online at transitionhouse.net.

World Vision has an online catalogue that allows you to give life-changing gifts to families in need throughout the world. A goat can bring lasting abundance to a hungry family, two hens and a rooster provide food and hope, honey bees and a beekeeping kit put a family in business, or you can help provide medicines or nutrition that will save children’s lives. If you’d like your loved ones to choose how your gift donation will be spent, you can give them a World of Change Giving Card. Then they can be involved in the giving. To find out more, visit worldvision.ca/gifts.

The WWF-Canada Adoption Program offers the chance to symbolically adopt a threatened species and support critical work to protect nature at the same time. Funds from the adoptions are used to fight major threats like climate change and animal poaching, and to support WWF’s conservation efforts across Canada. Most adoption kits are $40 (for a single animal) and include: details on the work this gift will help support, a personalized adoption certificate, a $30 tax receipt, a letter identifying you as the gift-giver if you adopted the animal for someone else, and a re-usable gift bag. You can choose from 27 animals, including an Emporer penguin, lynx, grey wolf, jaguar, walrus, Kermode bear, and meerkat. Adoption kits are available online at wwf.ca or by calling 1-800-26-PANDA.•