Giving back without breaking the bank

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle

The holidays are a time for giving, but that can be tricky on a student budget

Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor.

There is a tangible buzz of love, appreciation, and gratitude that comes from giving a gift to a child or a meal to a family. The holidays are a time to practice kindness, and that should be celebrated. The unfortunate part of being a student during the holidays is that your ability to give generously may be inhibited by a minimal, or lack of, paycheque.

The good thing is that there are many inexpensive and even free ways to give and fill others’ hearts with warmth and love over the next few weeks. Read on for a collection of seven creative and affordable ways to give back this holiday season.


Recycle cans and bottles

An easy way to make a few extra dollars during a time of tight finances is to round up your bottles and cans and take them to a recycling depot. You could even offer to take neighbor’s and friend’s bottles to save them time. Then, use the funds to donate to a good cause!


“Throw a snowball” and donate to the B.C. Children’s Hospital

There are countless children and families from all across B.C. who will spend their holidays in a hospital room this year. Sometimes we can forget how precious it is to be healthy and spend time with our loved ones in our own homes. The B.C. Children’s Hospital is holding a province-wide, virtual snowball fight where every donation from now until Jan. 6 counts as a virtual ‘snowball’ in the fight against illnesses that children are fighting. To donate, go to and click on ‘donate’.


Be kind to others

It can sometimes feel like money is the only gift to give, but especially over the stressful holiday season you can provide just as much value by smiling and speaking kindly to others. Reach out to your grandma who always loves to talk your ear off. Smile at strangers on the bus. Offer to help your neighbour with something. Ask your friend out for an afternoon walk through the Christmas Tree displays at the Bay Centre. Spreading love and generosity will give everyone around you a better holiday season, and it’s not a hard thing to do.


Homemade gifts and meals

If you are feeling stressed by a hefty list of people to buy gifts for, or the number of ‘secret santas’ you’re participating in feels overwhelming, try creating small, consumable, homemade gifts. Pinterest is a great place for inspiration, and I always love to think of what I would like to receive. A soup mix in a jar, homemade sugar scrub facemasks, a selection of Christmas cookies with a handmade card, a collection of tea-testers… there are countless options  for consumable gifts that are delightful and can be made at low cost.


Tip generously

The stress of tight finances over the holidays happens to the best of us, so it is nice to find ways to give back in small amounts. Tipping servers and waitstaff and being kind to them is a great way to spread the love in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming but can still bring someone a little extra holiday joy.


Donate warmth

The Burnside Gorge Community Centre is collecting winter coats, boots, snow pants, mitts, and scarves for kids in need. If you see a nice jacket at a thrift store or know of people in your neighbourhood who have extra winter wear to give away, offer to collect them and donate at 471 Cecelia Rd. Our Place Society also recently put out a call for blankets due to Victoria’s unusually cold weather snap. You can bring your extra blankets to 919 Pandora Ave.


Carry the giving spirit forward

Volunteer positions fill up like crazy during the holidays due to the excess of giving spirit everyone feels come December. But this can leave charities like the Mustard Seed in need of extra volunteers in the new year. To carry the generosity forward, sign up to volunteer with a charitable organization for the month of January — it will help when everyone else has eased off post-holidays.

The ultimate thing to remember when it comes to giving and being generous is that we do it because we care. If we keep that in mind, then we will look for more ways to spread kindness no matter how small the gesture or donation. It is not a competition to see who can give the most, it is a group effort to reach out to those who need an extra boost in a season of love and community.