Since I started this blog I have been keeping notes on news and information about various charities and this week there were so many things to make note of!
Just now, I read that the remaining members of the band Pussy Riot, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were released from jail. They weren’t due out till March so it is possible this is being done to improve Russia’s public profile in advance of the Winter Olympics in February. I’m happy for them and I can’t help but wonder, will they continue to express their political views? Will they stay in Russia? This article on CBC’s website said that, ”Tolokonnikova said that she and Alekhina will set up a human rights group to help prisoners.” I am looking forward to hearing more about them in the future. What does this have to do with Pink Monday? Well, I was thinking about Amnesty International and all the work they have been doing to help political prisoners including Pussy Riot. Quite worthy if you are looking for a charity to support this Christmas.
Yesterday I volunteered at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre with my friend Angela. We set up a Christmas crafts table and were there for 2 hours. About 7 women came and went from our table. Some sat wordlessly and colored. Some didn’t stop talking! I helped one woman make a Christmas card. I helped her to spell “Year” and “Daughter”. She broke my heart a little. While I was there, a woman came into the centre wailing and needing comfort from the staff. From what we could glean, she had been threatened by a dealer who was going to cut off all her hair as punishment and to send a message to others about not paying back your drug debts. The workers there really are on the “front lines”. The centre has a shelter and showers. I saw meals handed out. I saw a mountain of gifts in the office downstairs, and was told another truck-load was coming for the women on Christmas day. I saw a table full of loaves of bread for the taking and another full of scarves and hats. A truck came by and gave out winter coats to anyone who needed them. I had to tiptoe down one hallway because there was a room where a yoga class was in session. At our crafts table, I made origami Christmas boxes and Angela colored a mandala. I thought about how the crafts were meditative and calming and how maybe just a few minutes of that could be enough to offer a bit of peace to someone who was having a bad day. If you’re interested in supporting them, check out their website. They may still need food items for the holidays and you can call them at 604-681-8480 x 226 to find out what hasn’t been donated yet. If you keep receipts, you’ll get a tax receipt for spending over $20. They are also trying to build up contacts in the food industry who might be willing to donate so if you know anyone, ask them if they’d be interested in connecting with the centre.
Perhaps you heard a news story last week about Tom Christ? He’s from Calgary and he won $40 Million dollars last May and he’s donating every penny! He’s kept it quiet till now, he didn’t even tell his kids, but Lotto Max wanted their publicity so the news is out. He was golfing when he heard the news and he said he knew immediately where the money was going. Two years ago, he lost his wife to cancer. She was young and fought cancer for 6 years but in the end it took her from Tom and their children. It was difficult listening to the emotion in Tom’s voice as he talked about losing his wife. He never wanted all this media attention. He said there were a lot of charities he wants to give to and get his kids involved with. He plans to give most of the money to the Cancer Society because of how close he is to the cause.
It’s a cause I’m rather close to myself. I’ve lost many family members and friends to cancer so I guess it’s appropriate that I’ve recently signed on to a new temporary part-time job at the Canadian Cancer Society. I’ll be telerecruiting volunteers for the Daffodil Campaign in April. I’ll also be supporting them with a donation at that time.
Today’s post is dedicated to the loved ones I’ve lost: My dad, Willard Olson, my Grandma, Dagmar Hermanutz, my Auntie, Phyllis Dzus, friends, Tim King and Rona Castagnier, and to all the wonderful survivors I have in my life who might not be here today if it weren’t for the research dollars donated by people all over the world. Thank you!