Looking for Ways to Give Back

Last night, Krystal and I attended a presentation on blogging and the venue for it just happened to be ING DIRECT’s Vancouver Café. Over the last week, I’ve watched the ING DIRECT team start a cross-country road trip (which I’m so jealous of) from Newfoundland to Victoria (yay Victoria!) to help spread the word about Five Hole For Food, a national non-profit organization that collects food and raises awareness for local food banks across Canada. From their updates on Twitter, to the beautiful and inspiring pictures and videos they post on Instagram and YouTube, ING DIRECT is pulling out all the stops to help spread the word.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of passion I’m drawn to, when I look for ways to give back. And charitable giving is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. When I first moved to Vancouver, I knew I wanted to start volunteering again. I was a volunteer dog walker at the Victoria BC SPCA for years before I moved to Toronto, and since then I haven’t done much of anything. So, the first thing I did was contact my local BC SPCA to find out if they needed dog walkers. The short answer was no and to check back in the fall. Hmm. I then contacted my local animal shelter to see if they needed any volunteers but, after discovering their euthanasia policy, quickly realized I couldn’t see myself there.

Since dog walking isn’t in my immediate future, I’ve decided to focus my efforts elsewhere. I haven’t talked about this on the blog much before but financial literacy for youth is at the forefront of my mind these days. I’ve been downloading and reading any report or study I can find that has data on the level of financial literacy Canadian students walk out of high school with and, based on what I’ve read and what I know personally, I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed – and fast. I can (and will) write an entire blog post on this soon… well, as soon as I can turn the fantasies of what I’d like to do (make personal finance an entire course students can take in high school, go on a cross-country road trip to give presentations at various schools, see scholarships awarded to students who promote financial literacy, etc. etc. etc.) into realities (perhaps just give presentations at local schools).

Whew! It felt good to get that out there. :)

If you’ve ever tried to search for organizations that promote financial literacy for youth in a fun and inspiring way… well, you can imagine that my results came up short. I did discover that I could potentially volunteer twice/year to teach middle school students Junior Achievement of BC’s Dollars with Sense program. I have applied, and would love the opportunity to do so, but I think – no, I know – that there’s room for so much more than this. (Slow down, Cait… it’s past midnight and you need some sleep!)

Cait Flanders Five Hole for Food Donation

Until I can wrap my head around the different ways I could build up this cause, I’m still looking for other tangible ways to give back. ING DIRECT’s campaign with Five Hole For Food is just one example of how we can all help in our own communities. Over the past three years, FHFF has collected more than 200,000 pounds of food for local food banks serving more than 10 million Canadians. I made a small donation to the Vancouver Food Bank last night but there are a couple ways you can help too.

From now until August 31st, if you open an ING Investment Savings Account (ISA) with $100 or more, you’ll get a $25 bonus and an interest rate of 2.5% on your account for 90 days. Yes, I get a $25 bonus every time someone uses my Orange Key too. So how about this? I’ll donate all of the bonuses I get from now until July 31st to Five Hole for Food. Orange Key: 38888248S1

If you’re not a big believer in donating cash, donating non-perishable food items to your local food bank is just one way you can be sure your money is going where you intend it to.

What’s your favourite way to give back?

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  • Cait, I agree 100% that personal finance should be taught in high school. I left high school knowing very little about budgeting, credit, etc. The result was me ending up with $39,000 worth of debt in my early twenties. It’s shocking to me that such a critical skill is deemed not worth teaching to teenagers.

    • I’m working on a post for Monday that will explain this a bit further, but there is *some* personal finance in the Education IRPs… it’s just mostly in classes that no students care about. It should be it’s own class, in my opinion.

  • I have thought about going back to my high school and offering to teach a financial literacy class, but then again I went to a private high school where tuition was through the roof. Most of the students that attend don’t really ‘worry’ about money, which is probably why it’s even more important for them to learn, I guess.
    I have been involved in Food Matters/Local Matters which teaches low income families and young children about nutrition and food education. It’s a really hands on 6 week class and each week the parents go home with a bag of groceries to try out what they learned. It’s been pretty rewarding. Having a similar program about money might be hard, since I don’ see a nonprofit giving actual money for families to budget with at home, but who knows, it could happen?!

    • Sounds like you’re working with a great cause, Sofia! I visited a place in Toronto that does something similar, but they also grew all of their produce, taught people how to use community gardens, etc. Keep at it!

  • We are perfectly in-sync. You’ve pretty much outlined exactly what I’ve been thinking about doing in the future, but here in the US. It’s an absolute outrage that 18-year-olds can receive HS diplomas without knowing how to balance a checkbook or the kind of debt they can incur with mishandled credit cards.

    • There is actually some personal finance in our education system up here, but it’s just not in a BIG enough format. We will discuss via email, and I’ll probably get into it on the blog more next week. :)

  • Hi! Just thought I’d let you know that my work has a tremendous financial literacy program for families that has made a huge impact. If you send me a tweet I can put you in touch with the lady running it for more info. We are in Victoria. Also – love your blog!
    Twitter @sarahclaudine

    • Late to reply here but so happy we’ve connected, Sarah! It sounds like a great program and I can’t wait to learn more about it.

  • I think it would be brilliant if there was a financial course that was MANDATORY for high school kids to take.

    I would have loved to learn about RRSPs,mortgages, credit cards, creating a budget.

    You go girl!

    • YES! Although I can’t say I would have LOVED to learn about mortgages back then, haha… but just day-to-day money management? This needs to happen.

  • I think financial literacy for youth is an excellent goal to focus on, I agree that there’s not much out there!

    So far all of my volunteer time has been spent with the OSPCA and I absolutely love it. Luckily the shelter I go to on weekends is a no-killer shelter. I also just started helping out at a haven for older/terminally ill/abandoned dogs! I thought it might be sad but they’re all so sweet and need my love haha

    • That’s exactly how I feel about the BC SPCA! You do see some sad stories, from time to time, but for the most part you just get to walk dogs and play with puppies. How is that not the best volunteer job ever?

      Ugh, why won’t this new location just take a tenured volunteer…? :(

  • Hey Cait!I like your idea about teaching financial literacy – get in touch with a local Boys and Girls Club and explain what you want to do. I used to work for them in Alberta, they’ll love you. They might not have a specific program but they’ll work with you if you wanted to start something.

  • That’s a really cool thing ING is doing! And I think your idea is great! I think about what I want to do to give back every time I watch the “Making a Difference” segment on NBC Nightly News. Part of me wants to join some kind of organization, and part of me wants to come up with something on my own. I hope something lands soon for both of us!

    • My problem is I think BIG but know I should probably start small… and I never know where to start, haha.

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