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There’s More to Gifts Than Toys and Electronics


At this time of year, we all face the dreaded shopping list. Gifts are needed for your toddlers or teens, spouses and family, teachers, coaches and caregivers. Unfortunately what ends up happening is that we end up buying out of obligation and over-spending. In our culture today, giving gifts as a sign of appreciation is the way and there’s no way of escaping it, at least in the short-term but maybe we can tweak it and offer something more meaningful rather than just trinkets, toys and electronics.

Giving the gift of experience is a gift that is threefold – first, the gift goes to charity, second, the appreciation shown to the receiver of the gift and third, the experience you can enjoy together. Some gift ideas that give back right in our own back yard are:

Family or individual memberships to The Ecomuseum Zoo where you will discover more than 115 species of live animals from Quebec in their natural settings. Tel: (514) 457-9449 / www.zooenville.ca

Concert tickets, CDs for West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra (WIYSO) that the whole family can enjoy. WIYSO offers young musicians aged 8 to 25 in the West Island the opportunity to develop skills, discipline, a sense of teamwork and a deeper understanding of music. Tel: (514) 658-1630 /

Consider volunteering as a family or group of friends. Not only will it bring you closer together and strengthen your relationship, these local organizations and the people who greatly need the services will appreciate anything you can offer.

Volunteer West Island offers opportunities that are right for you whether as an individual, youth, group or business, for a few hours, a day or on an ongoing basis in programs including services for seniors, Meals on Wheels and more. Tel: (514) 457-5445 / www.volunteerwestisland.org

Literacy Unlimited gives adults with low-literacy skills the opportunity to enrich their lives. Volunteers from the community are instrumental in providing programs such as: one-on-one tutoring, computer skills for everyday life, small-group learning, problem solving, math magic, and family literacy activities. Tel: 514-694-0007 / www.literacyunlimited.ca

Join Big Sisters and Big Brothers of West Island to help provide responsible adult guidance to children through quality Mentoring and In-School programs. Tel: (514) 538-6100 / www.bbbsofwi.org

West Island Mission provides food assistance and other related aid to the less fortunate in the area. Make a donation, bring non-perishables or volunteer in person. Tel: (514) 912-6813 / www.wimmoi.com

The holidays are a time to enjoy your children, your families and all those who support you. Take this opportunity to talk about family values and the importance of “paying it forward”. With all the gifts given and gifts received, it’s a great teachable moment to take inventory of what you no longer need or use and bring them in to a local community group.

AMCAL Family Services is located in the heart of Pointe- Claire Village and is the only community group of its kind in Montreal. For over 30 years, AMCAL helps families build healthy relationships. Tel: (514) 694-3161 / www.amcal.ca

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