Skip to main content

Holiday Gift Ideas and the Gift of Community

Vendor Raven Joyce stands with her wares displayed on a festive white wagon-shaped table, decorated with red and white balloons, at the holiday market.
ILEO Storefront Starter Golden Mile entrepreneur Raven Joyce.

This week we’re talking about the gift of giving, affordable housing, the results from our CN Tower climb, holiday gift ideas and getting married on a streetcar.

Dear Friend,

Recently, I was in the Greater Golden Mile neighbourhood of Scarborough at the ILEO Holiday Market. As I was taking in the unique, made-with-love products created by local entrepreneurs that are part of United Way’s Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) Storefront Starter initiative, I got to thinking about gift giving. A simple act that shows the people most important to us how much we care.

It makes me think of the gift of support and generosity you give to our community, Terence. As a member of the United Way family, you’re having an incredible impact on the lives of people across this region.

For those who may be struggling to make ends meet, your gift provides warmth—a hot meal, a roof over their head. For those accessing mental health services, your donations offer support, strength. And in neighbourhoods across Peel, Toronto and York Region, the programs you help fund—youth mentoring, employment services, seniors’ yoga and more—provide pockets of joy and hope to over 2 million people.

This care is especially needed as our community faces a housing crisis and the cost of living stays high. We’ve seen the devastating effects of these challenges this past year—and I fear they will continue to make life harder and harder for our neighbours in the months to come.

That’s why I’d like to ask you to show your care again today. If you’ve already made a gift this year, thank you. If you haven’t, or if you can give again, please do so. Your generosity will be matched, doubling your impact. Every dollar will help us meet immediate needs and tackle the root causes of poverty.

By coming together once again, we can ensure everyone in our community has a life filled with warmth and joy.

Always, and only, thank you.

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

Things to Know Right Now

The front cover and an open copy of the “Bringing Affordable Housing Home” report.

Bringing Affordable Housing Home

One third of Ontario renters are paying rents they can’t afford. Many of us are experiencing or know someone that is struggling to find affordable housing. That’s why we led United Ways across the province to launch Bringing Affordable Housing Home: An action plan for housing stability in Ontario, in collaboration with non-profit sector partners, including the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights, Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness, Ontario for All and the Ontario Nonprofit Network. The action plan offers seven practical, solutions-focused recommendations to all levels of government on growing and protecting affordable and deeply affordable housing in Ontario, and we stand ready to work with them to build a region where everyone has a place to call home.

Stepping Up for Community

After a three-year hiatus, we were thrilled to return to the CN Tower in October for ClimbUP 2023. It was a resounding success, raising an astounding $1.5 million for community. None of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts of our climbers, volunteers and sponsors. We want to thank each and every one of you for helping us fight local poverty and build stronger communities across Peel, Toronto and York Region.

Want to be among the first to register for next year’s CN Tower climb? Sign up to be notified when registration opens.

Update from the Frontlines

Four adults sitting round a table and crafting with paper, scissors, crayons and marker pens.
Courtesy of Malvern Family Resource Centre

United Way is proud to be working with local organizations to strengthen neighbourhoods across the GTA. One example of this work in action? Our partnership with Malvern Family Resource Centre (MFRC) in Scarborough’s Morningside Heights neighbourhood. We provide the organization with overall operational funding, ensuring it can provide a wide range of programs—an urban farm, early years support, seniors programs and more. As demand for programs continues to grow, MFRC is expanding its offering to meet its community’s needs, and United Way is with it every step of the way.

Local Love in Action

A holiday bouquet of red, peach and white flowers.

Love is in the air—and on the TTC! The story of two Ontario newlyweds went viral after they tied the knot on a King streetcar. Moved by the number of people in the community struggling with mental health and homelessness, the couple decided to donate the money they would have spent on a traditional wedding venue to United Way and other local organizations. What a beautiful way to spread the love. We wish them all the best!

Get Involved

A colourful graphic with the words “2023 Local Gift Guide” and illustrations of a snowflake and a wrapped gift.

Local Gift Guide

Our local gift guide is back by popular demand! This guide is full of socially conscious goodies from across the GTA, each of which also showcases how our work connects our neighbours to employment and income opportunities. Take a look at these holiday gift ideas and consider giving a gift that spreads joy while also supporting your community.

ILEO Holiday Market

Be sure to check out the incredible up-and-coming Scarborough-based entrepreneurs at the ILEO Holiday Market! You’ll find great gifts, including hand-embroidered clothing and décor, customizable pride pins, natural products, wellness items and homemade Mexican food. All the entrepreneurs are part of ILEO’s Storefront Starter Golden Mile pilot program. The ILEO Holiday Market runs Dec. 14 to 17 and is hosted by RioCan REIT at the Yonge Eglinton Centre, 2300 Yonge Street. Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Legacy Giving

As we wrap up 2023, it’s important to look back at the year and consider an end of year gift to increase your impact, but it’s also a good time to look ahead. Legacy giving is a powerful way to show your commitment to your community and celebrate your life’s legacy. Learn more about legacy giving and how to leave a gift for United Way in your will that will continue to leave an impact for generations to come.

You Might Also Like

Want to see your support in action?

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates about how your local love is making a difference across the GTA.

Share this article: