Spreading a Little Holiday Cheer to Everyone You Meet

Aeryn Lynne
This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and its client.

We’re fast approaching the end of another year; a time where its just starting to get much colder after months of beautiful weather. Families are apart more than ever, whether its because of work or school or health; there’s this rise of “keeping busy” and its spilling over days that were traditionally meant for family.

Its also become a time where our friends, family, neighbours and generally people everywhere need each others help to be reminded that there is warmth to be found.

Whether, its a need for funds, time, gifts, or food, its a time to give back to those we love and to those we’ve not yet met.

Every year, TheHubs and I make it a point to purchase at least one toy that will have a better probability of going to a teenaged boy; something fitting for a child-in-need between the ages of 12 and 18. Why? In toy drives, this is the demographic most forgotten. Its so easy to find toys for children between the ages of 0 and 12, you could literally find something in any toy store, even with your eyes closed, for those younger age groups. It gets harder to find something thoughtful though, that isn’t clothing related, and doesn’t require a game console to play, for teenaged girls, and boys especially.  And because its so easy to just grab any toy off the shelf on the way to work for your sponsored toy drive, we tend to go the easier route, instead of finding something that would be enjoyed by an equally deserving teenager.

Young ladies are giftable with accessories, such as jewellery, makeup, watches, wallets and purses, etc, though I tend to stay away from these just because of how easy they’re purchasable when we have enough funds to purchase two gifts for a toy drive.

And for young men… I don’t know about you, but I end up wracking my brain every year for something cool for the men in my family, so it’s been hard for me to find those it-gifts for teenaged-boys.

Because its hard to find unique gifts for teenagers, here’s a list of…

Gender-Neutral Gifting Suggestions for Kids 12 to 18

  • I find myself still looking in the tech department when shopping for a toy drive. In the past years, we’ve gifted MP3 players, DVDs, and a few watches. There’s a chance the family will have a gaming console, a DVD player, or a computer (to download mp3s,) so these kinds of toys could go to a good home.  I do purchase these for boys in mind, but you never know if they’ll wind up under the tree for a girl instead.
  • Comic books are a great gender-neutral gift for teenagers, and if you go to an actual comic book store, you could purchase a TON for $20, which means you could make a lot of kids’ holidays a little warmer this year;
  • On a similar level, its also good to look at various collectible card games (CCGs), like Magic The Gathering (MTG) to help boost some young collector’s stock;
  • If you have only a few minutes left, and need to pick up something quick for a toy drive at a local one-stop-shop like Walmart, aim for the board game section.  Board games are still cool; especially RISK, everyone loves RISK!
  • Gift cards for food/restaurants, movies, and stores frequented by teens.

A quick sample of older toys/gifts I found the last time I stopped by Walmart, to get any idea of whats available for donation…

DVDs are fun for the whole family, and there are some great genres in the $5 bin.

A ton of DVDs for only $5 each - some great titles in there too! #shop

 Who doesn’t love Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga??

What person doesn't like Angry Birds Star Wars? Fun for everyone in the family! :) #shop

 RISK – I was so very addicted to this game when I was around 18, lol.  Its also one of two items I picked up for gifting at a toy drive.

I remember LOVING this game as a teen; my friends and I were addicted to it. #shop

 The second item I picked up. Chances are that if a child has a cell phone or a tablet, it will mostly like be Android based and this card can go towards apps, games and movies.

If a child has a cell phone or tablet, chances are that it will be Android based. #shop

And now that we have gifts to give, where do we donate them?  You usually don’t have to look far to donate a gift to a toy drive – in fact, get in contact with your friends through text, or even facebook to see if someone is running a drive at their home.  A friend of ours gets everyone in her circle of family and friends to help sponsor one family, so that they have a special Christmas to remember, including food for a family meal and gifts for everyone.  I’ll be checking with her first, should these gifts be helpful to any teenagers that may be part of that family.  If not, TheHubs’ work has a drive that has done well for our town for years now.

Alternatively, I’ve compiled an ever-growing number of readily available toy drives around the City of Toronto, so if you’re a fellow Torontonian and want to find someplace close-by to drop off your gift, by all means check out this map for places accepting your gifts (this map will be actively updated throughout the coming month.)

Toronto Toy Drive/Donation Map

Children, though precious, aren’t the only demographic that could use some love this year.  Here are some places that would greatly appreciate some warmth and kindness, any time of the year.

Local Places That Could Use Your Help

  • Senior Citizen Homes/Apartments – they would welcome your time visiting, send greeting cards, baked goods, etc.
  • Women’s shelters will have both mothers and their children who could really use some love by donation.
  • Fire halls usually have a toy drive in the works, but the firemen themselves should be gifted some cheer as well!

As I mentioned right at the top, we’re all busy bunnies, so sometimes the only help we can provide is via online.  Here’s a list of local and global charities that could use a little more help this time of year.

Online Donations

There are so many ways to help when we can.  In the comments below, I would love to hear what organisations and drives are near and dear to you.  If your drive is Toronto based, please give me a heads up on this, as I’d love to add it to the map above!

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Aeryn Lynne

The Geek at Geek Life
Living in Superman's Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, fights for fashion-equality, squees over comic art, and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction.
Aeryn Lynne

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9 Comments on “Spreading a Little Holiday Cheer to Everyone You Meet

ashley p
December 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

We always donate food into the bins at the grocery store; we donate food/toys to the drive through my sons school. We help out our neighbours (my boys love to shovel their walkway) and this year we made cards and treats for a local seniors home…it’s really important to me that they learn about giving….

Virginia Fynes
December 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

This is such a great post Aeryn! Great tips and points about the forgotten demographic, I had never thought of it before. I love the idea of a community drive to support an individual family.

December 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Thank you for the reminder! It is a forgotten demographic! Those are great ideas! The gift cards are always a winner

December 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm

We donate to Santa’s Anonymous here in Edmonton. It’s fun to buy and donate toys for the little ones but we also donate cash so the organization can accommodate teen needs.

Jenna Em
December 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thanks for detailing ways to help out this Holiday season, and stating who is often forgotten when donations are given out. I appreciate you including a local map or where donations can be made.

Denise @ Do you have that in my size???
December 3, 2013 at 9:48 am

When my kids were teenagers – they’re all grown and out of the house now – the easiest gift in the world to buy for any of them, regardless of gender, was sporting equipment. Basketballs, footballs, volleyballs – whatever the occasion, these gifts were always favorites for them (and for me). For a gift drive, perhaps a gift card for a sporting goods store? Especially for the tougher 15-18 year old demographic, sporting goods are almost universally pleasing.

Great post, thanks for bringing attention to this often-neglected group of deserving folks.

December 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

I agree with you completely Aeryn, the 12 to 18 age group is a forgotten demographic. The cut off age for many of these charity events is 12. I often think of boys and girls not be included in toy drives or when “adopting” a Christmas family. Gosh, they are still babies at that age. I remember when our kids were in that demographic and I would have been so sad if they received nothing at all for Christmas. Huge Kodos to you and your husband for looking out for these KIDS and making us all more aware of their need.

December 3, 2013 at 11:36 am

I love that your and your husband give back to those less fortunate and select a demographic that is often forgotten. What great ideas you have as well. I saw the Angry Birds Jenga and thought that would be a great choice for older kids.

Debbie Bashford
December 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I pick up toys on sale throughout the year to donate to our local CAS every Christmas


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