Giving Tuesday ( #GivingTuesday) started four years ago in 2012, according to Wikipedia, as a hashtag based promotion for giving back. It's an American-based International day that follows some of the biggest spending days of the year, though only 18% of Americans have heard of it so far. Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, tied in with American Thanksgiving weekend, are all about shopping for oneself, and getting the best deals for Christmas presents. Since 2012, Giving Tuesday follows right afterward as a reminder that there are many out there who are in need, and while its awesome you got an XBox One for 50% off, some of those savings could help a family of five in need of food for dinner, or electricity to keep their house warm during the colder months, or simply, shelter.\n\nLast year,\u00a0I read a heartfelt plea for help from one of my favourite charities here in Toronto. The letter discussed a voicemail received by the charity's Executive Director, "A man's voice cleared his throat and pleaded, 'Me and my family just moved to Toronto from out east. I don't have a job yet, we're out of food, and almost out of money.'... He sounded scared, desperate, defeated. I heard a baby crying in the background." The story goes on and the man begs for baby formula at the very least, if there was nothing left to spare for the other four members of his family.\n\nIt brought me to tears, and has\u00a0stuck with me for an entire year.\n\nI'm trying to teach my 6\u00a0yo nephew Kit about generosity, and helping those in need, because not everyone is as lucky as he to have a home with five loving adults, ample food, entertainment and a warm place to sleep each night.\n\nWhile he grasped the idea that we were helping others by donating food to our local food bank, he's just barely understanding\u00a0that not every home is the same. That some struggle, either for a short term, or their entire life.\n\nHe does understand though, that when we can help others, we should.\nWho Needs Help In Toronto\nYou can't throw an 8-bit pebble through the interwebs without hitting a charity. Everyone needs help, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. While I would like nothing better than to help each and every charity that truly helps the people they're singling out, I have a selection of local charities that receive my time and funds as I feel it best to help my neighbours first. This isn't to say that I don't help international charities, I do frequently. They get a lot of coverage through social networks or even TV though. The charities listed here may not have been on your radar until this very moment.\n\nLocal Toronto charities, in no particular order:\n\n \t\nSecond Harvest\nSecond Harvest is the largest food rescue program in Canada. Since 1985, Second Harvest has been picking up donated, surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste, and delivering that food to community agencies in Toronto. Currently, Second Harvest delivers rescued food to over 200 social service agencies. Learn more now about this year's Turkey Drive, and donate today.\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday Visit a participating @LoblawsON for this year's @2ndHarvestTO Turkey Drive!" quote="#GivingTuesday Visit a participating @LoblawsON for this year's @2ndHarvestTO Turkey Drive!"]\n \t\nShoebox Project\nEach shoebox is filled with items valued at $50 that a woman would enjoy, but would not splurge on for herself in difficult times. These shoeboxes brighten the holiday season and let the women know they are special and not forgotten. Putting together a shoebox is easy and this small gesture of kindness is very much appreciated by its recipient. Learn more now, and donate today.\nDeadline for a holiday shoebox is December 6th!\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday Create a gift for a woman much in need with @shoeboxcanada!" quote="#GivingTuesday Create a gift for a woman much in need with @shoeboxcanada!"]\n \t\nHabitat for Humanity GTA\nHabitat for Humanity GTA helps low-income families build and buy simple, decent quality affordable homes through a no-interest mortgage with payments set at less than 30 percent of gross income. This solution not only helps to provide available housing for families in need, it enables low-income families to build assets, reduce their dependence on other forms of social assistance and break the cycle of poverty. Learn more now, and donate today.\nFor the holidays, purchase a gingerbread kit to make at home, or join Habitat for Humanity at one of their local events!\n\n100% of the funds raised through the Gingerbread Build go directly to building Habitat homes for families in need of affordable housing in the GTA.\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday Buy and build a gourmet gingerbread house with @HabitatGTA!" quote="#GivingTuesday Buy and build a gourmet gingerbread house with @HabitatGTA!"]\n \t\nCovenant House for Toronto\nWhen youth come to our doors, we offer them a range of programs and services for wherever they are on the path to independence. While most of our youth have experienced abuse, neglect, loss and hardship, their needs when they come to us can be as diverse as they are. They may be in an emotional crisis and need a lot of stability and support to heal. They may feel ready to take on the future, but need guidance and opportunity. Learn more now, and donate today.\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday 'Kids' and 'homeless' should not be in the same sentence." quote="#GivingTuesday 'Kids' and 'homeless' should not be in the same sentence."]\n \t\nCP Rail Holiday Food Drive\nSince 1999, the Holiday Train has raised close to CAD$10.6 million and 3.3 million pounds of food for North American food banks. Everything raised in each community stays in that community, and CP additionally makes donations at each stop.\n\nThe Holiday Train shines a bright light on the importance of supporting food banks and how local residents can join the Holiday Train's spirit in feeding our communities across the country.\n\nThe program is an important community initiative for CP employees as more than 15,000 of us live and work in more than 1,100 North American communities. Hunger is an issue that can, and does, impact all of our neighbours. Learn more now, and donate today.\nWith Kit's help in choosing what to buy, we picked up over\u00a0$50 of food to bring to last night's Holiday Train for Toronto. There are a ton more stops across Ontario and Canada coming up, so check the schedule to see if the train is going to stop near you next!\nNovember 2015\nhttps:\/\/www.instagram.com\/p\/-utrs7qu03\nNovember 2016\nhttps:\/\/www.instagram.com\/p\/BNX0nBnguAd\nOnce we placed our bags into the donation box, we stuck around to see the fabulously lit up train and listen to holiday tunes.\nhttps:\/\/www.instagram.com\/p\/-u-hFtqu-o\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday Find out if the @CPHolidayTrain is in your area next!" quote="#GivingTuesday Find out if the @CPHolidayTrain is in your area next!"]\n \t\nToronto Public Library Foundation\nMost people think that the Library is fully supported by municipal taxes \u2013 but it isn\u2019t. Toronto Public Library relies on donors to create life-changing programs, services, spaces and collections that wouldn't be possible with government funding alone. Learn more now, and donate today.\n[clickToTweet tweet="#GivingTuesday @TPL_Foundation needs your help with their Story-time Outreach!" quote="#GivingTuesday @TPL_Foundation needs your help with their Story-time Outreach!"]\n\nWant to find charities that will help fellow Canadians? CanadaHelps.org is an incredible resource to find all the communities that need help today.\n\n \n\nHow are you going to help this Giving Tuesday?