family,  parenting

Giving Back This Holiday Season with Red Cross Canada

“I’d rather have empathy than sympathy,” my younger daughter, 13, out of the blue stated the other day when I was driving her to her therapy riding session. That got me wondering if she knew the difference between the two. So I asked her why she felt that way and what she considered empathy.

“Sympathy is just feeling sorry for someone, like pity, for someone else. Empathy is being able to feel their feelings, put yourself in their shoes and do something about it.”


There are many challenging moments parenting teens. But there are also times when they say or do something unexpected and you recognize that they might be on the way towards becoming incredible young adults. This was one of those days. It was also a good opening for us to start talking about giving back during the holidays.

Some ways we have worked to teach empathy

My husband and I have both been working on growing empathetic human beings for years. Empathy and helping and using your voice for good are themes that have always mattered to us. When the kids were young we tried to model empathy. We worked hard at giving back. As an adoptive parent, I was a resource person and speaker at the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society for over a decade. Sometimes the kids would come with me to speaking nights, so they were involved too.

When the kids were toddlers we would often ask how do you think that child, or that person, feels when something like that happens? Empathy grows in moments when others take time to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. My daughter got that one right.

The last two years I have donated time and money as a board member of Sari Therapy riding on Arva. This year we are participating in a Secret Santa exchange for seniors at the facility where my Mom used to live. We are again giving to the Angel Tree and we will continue to sponsor a child and drop donations of clothing and toys off to local charities. Giving back is a way of life here.

This holiday season, I have been searching for something new to do together as a family. Something impactful. Something more. The empathy and sympathy conversation gave me a thread to pick up that conversation.


Giving Back is Easy with Red Cross Canada

This weekend while my oldest was doing homework in my office I showed her Red Cross Canada’s Perfect Gifts web site and asked her opinion. That was surprisingly easy. She was well aware of Red Cross Canada and the disaster relief work they do. We both looked at the site together to determine what she thought was most impactful.

“Children are often hardest hit by natural disasters because they have weak and growing immune systems,” she said and picked the infant care package immediately. Her words, not mine.

The infant care package was $35 which includes diapers, wipes and creams to care for a baby. In high school my daughter has been studying biology and genetics and immune systems. She’s also old enough to read about all of the natural disasters we’ve had this past year both in BC, with the wildfires that displaced many over the summer, and globally with the extreme weather events like Hurricane Irma and Maria. I personally like that she was able to tie the gift to something she’s been studying at school.


We kept talking, because we often have some interesting conversations with each other and that led to a discussion about medicine, the importance of immunizations, how vaccines are made and work with your body, and child health in general. So we added the Mother and Baby health pack as well. That gift gives a month’s supply of life-saving medicines for 12 babies and mothers.

[tweetthis]DYK 29,000 children under the age of five die every day? Giving back to @RedCrossCanada this season saves lives [/tweetthis]

When you shop for gifts through Red Cross Canada, you’re shopping for others in need. When you shop through Red Cross Canada, you are actually purchasing things like warm blankets, grocery packs, infant care packages, and more that go directly to families in need. That’s the kind of charitable giving that my family feels good about.

More reasons to give:

Through December, Aviva Canada will match all gifts purchased through the Red Cross Website up to $30,000. That is a HUGE amount of good going on in the world. Recently I learned that 91.3 % of every dollar spent goes directly towards program expenses. That is one of the highest I have ever seen.


Giving Back with Red Cross Canada Gives So Much More

My family is happy to be able to support Red Cross Canada. It’s as easy as visiting the Perfect Gifts website. Sometimes I give the kids a budget to work within, but I didn’t this year. I wanted to see what mattered to them and why. They’ve each decided to give up one gift this year to do their part in giving back this season. That’s a simple way to get kids involved.


The more you give, the more the Red Cross Survival Kit on the right side of the page fills up. A $200 total donation fills the survival kit up. But there are many ways to give. Your gift can be from a child to a child, as ours is and that makes an impact too.

If, like us, you are also still missing a loved one during the holidays, consider gifting something in memory of them. I miss my Mom every day, and Jim’s parents passed away, several years ago. This year one of my favourite aunts lost her battle with cancer. Giving back to a charity in their honour helps us all to remember them. That’s part of my grieving process.

Over this holiday season I plan to revisit the Red Cross Canada site to continue giving as we keep talking about it here. Eventually I am pretty sure we will get to the $200 that fills the survival kit and add that much more to the pool of giving back and good in the world. Sometimes I tell my kids I believe putting good and positivity into the world leaves it a bit brighter. This is an easy way to do that.

giving back

RED CROSS CANADA Perfect Gifts Giving Back All Year

A recent Ipsos survey for the Red Cross finds that in light of the many disasters this year, both at home and abroad, the majority of Canadians – 63 % – want to give back this year. Every donation gives Red Cross Canada the flexibility to rapidly respond in the most effective way to emergencies or emerging humanitarian needs at home and anywhere in the world.

If you’re one of the Canadians this holiday season looking to give back somehow then, head over to the Red Cross Canada website and look over their gifting options. Remember, whatever you gift through the website will be matched by Aviva Canada up to $30,000. So your donation doubles. You can also give in someone else’s name. Consider that for relatives, teachers, and gifts in honour of, as I mentioned above too.

Don’t forget to read Margarita Ibbott’s post on Giving Back as well. This post has been sponsored by Red Cross Canada as part of a Thrifty Mom Media influencer outreach program. My opinion is all my own and it is truthful.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Heather Lynne

    My sister and brother-in-law gave my mother-in-law a gift like this one year. It was supplies for pregnant/new mothers. It was so touching because my mother in law is a lactation consultant and doula.

    • Paula

      Excellent. I am happy to hear others value the same things. Empathy is extremely valuable and important throughout life.

  • Susan Carraretto

    Wow… what a wise daughter you are raising. She is absolutely right… empathy is everything!!!

    The Red Cross is such an important organization to support. It’s wonderful when they make it extra easy to give.

    • Paula

      Thanks Susan! I hope she continues to remember these lessons and moments. It is hard to be empathetic sometimes because I think many of us wear our hearts on our sleeves. Happy to support Red Cross Canada because of all the good they do worldwide and here in Canada too.