Bags of Love

MSP Bags of Love

My Sister’s Place is a place that welcomes any self-identifying woman with open arms as a safe place to work through issues relating to homelessness, mental health, abuse, and anything else that leads them to needing a safe haven.  They provide healthy meals, somewhere to shower and rest, use the internet, and access resources and supports for permanent housing, healing, and friendship.

This year, Bags of Love is aiming to collect 250 gift bags filled with treats and essentials for the women who use My Sister’s Place. These are women who don’t have the simple luxuries that many of us take for granted – a new toothbrush, some nail polish, candy, a magazine.

Please, take some time to fill a bag with love for one of the women. Aim for about $25 of un-open, new necessities and surprises, unwrapped and tucked inside a medium sized gift bag. When it’s full, drop it off at one of the two locations on the poster or contact if you are unable to deliver it in time.  Do this with your kids, get your coworkers involved, spread the word to your friends. Team up with someone else to fill a bag or fill up more than one bag!

Deadline for donations is MAY 5.

Spring Food Drive


Every spring, the London Food Bank looks to Londoners to step up their game and make a conscious effort do donate to the food bank. The Spring Food Drive officially begins today and runs until Monday, April 6. the demand for help at the Food Bank has increased over the past few years and even hit a new single day record high last month of 296 families asking for support. If it’s within your abilities, consider donating. Get your children involved and have that discussion about poverty with them, let them pick out some of their favourite non-perishable foods at the grocery store to donate, and have them put the food in the donation bins. Talk to them about why donating is important for you and for our community.


Most London grocery stores are collecting non-perishable food items for the Food Bank

London Fire Halls

London Food Bank


CASH – make a cash donation to the London Food Bank HERE.

Canned Fruit

Canned Vegetables

Canned Meat and Fish

Peanut Butter

Baby Food and Formula

Pasta and Pasta Sauces


Special Diet Foods (gluten free, lactose free, etc.)

Feminine Hygiene Products (tampons, maxi pads, etc.)


Perishable food items (i.e. fresh food, bread, fruit, vegetables, milk, dairy, frozen food, commercial baked goods etc.) ** Fruits and vegetables CAN be brought directly to the Food Bank, but NOT placed in donation bins

Expired food items (check the date when you’re clearing out your pantry!)

Homemade food

Opened containers

Unlabeled cans or containers


If you need help from the London Food Bank, see HERE.



LifeSpin: Helping Londoners in Need


LifeSpin is a not-for-profit organization in East London that supports low income families throughout the year. As many London families know, it is hard enough to make ends meet in a regular month, but Christmas can be especially hard. Often after paying the bills, there is just not enough to buy any presents to put under the tree. Last year, LifeSpin provided gifts to over 2500 Londoners and this year, they need more help.

With the days before Santa arrives dwindling quickly, they have a long list of families seeking sponsorship. If it is at all possible for you, get some friends together, co-workers, family members, neighbours, church groups, even just yourself and sponsor a family in need.  The children have small wish lists and these parents would love to be able to see a few of their child’s Christmas dreams come true.

No one chooses to live in poverty. No family wants to be the one to have to ask for help. These families are doing the best they can and usually are in their position through no fault of their own.


Learn more about LifeSpin and the work they do HERE

Learn about their Christmas Program and how to sponsor a family HERE. It is very simple and the difference you will be making is immeasurable.





Gift Guide: Teacher Gifts

gift guide 5

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you have children who are school-age, then the clock is ticking for you to get those Teacher Gifts bought and wrapped. For many of us, there are more than just teachers on that shopping list – ECE’s, EA’s, therapists, bus drivers, etc. Some of you will have standard go-to gifts that you give year after year, some of you will be new to this type of thing, and the rest may be somewhere in the middle. Instead of giving the teacher a box of chocolates or yet another Christmas mug/ornament that has either an apple or a #1 teacher scrawled on it (there’s a reason there are so many of these in thrift shops), we offer these suggestions:


Remember that a gift is not expected. Not all children give their teachers gifts, no matter what Pinterest tells you. If this is going to cause you stress, step back and relax. Your child isn’t going to get a lump of coal from the teacher if you don’t send a gift to school. It’s appreciated, for sure, but not required.


Teachers unanimously say that a personalized card is always a treasured gift. Have your child make the card if they enjoy that sort of thing. Spend a few minutes to write a few lines about how much you appreciate the teacher and the work they do with your child and you are all set.


My one child has seen a number of therapists over the years and while we love to recognize their amazing work and how much we appreciate them over the holiday season, they aren’t allowed to accept gifts. As an alternative to giving them something tangible, we have always chosen to give a donation somewhere in their name. For some ideas, see our Gift Guide on donations. This is also a great option for group gifts – daycare, preschool or kindergarten classrooms with multiple teachers/ECE’s, school staff that you want to recognize (that secretarial team that makes the school amazing, for example). Note that at this late date, many places will not be able to mail you a card before school is out, so opt for a print out or email version.


Many teachers stock their classroom with their own books. Donate a book or two to your child’s classroom or teacher’s book shelf. Have your child pick their favourite story from home or something new by their favourite author.


A common default is going to be the Tim’s card, but find out if they prefer Starbuck’s instead or if they are that rare breed that doesn’t like coffee or tea at all. Show your child a cup from either place and ask them if they’ve seen it in their teacher’s hand. Chances are they can identify which their teacher prefers. Indigo cards are also a great idea for restocking/updating the classrooms book shelves or letting them pick a holiday read. LCBO is also a popular choice, though you might want to make sure that this will be a welcome gift. A favourite lunch place, somewhere they can buy school supplies or any other place you’ve heard them mention are some other ideas.


You’ll have to act now, but all it takes is one parent slipping a letter into each child’s backpack. Invite interested parents to send $5 or $10 per teacher to school in an envelope addressed to your child. Collect the cash, buy a larger gift, sign the card from all the kids whose parents donated money. I guarantee a lot of the parents who receive that letter will happily let you do the shopping on their behalf. Get a gift card for a spa, a nice restaurant or anywhere else where your teacher might want to spend a bit more money over the holidays.


Does your child constantly run out of pencil crayons and glue? Odds are good that his/her teacher does as well. Stock them up with markers, erasers, pencils, glue sticks, and whatever else they might need. For bonus points – buy them a pack of personalized labels (just check the shipping dates to make sure they’ll get here on time!).


Just to reiterate – gifts are appreciated, but not mandatory. Really. And while teachers will be appreciative of whatever you do give them, first ask yourself whether they would want 20 of whatever you plan on giving them. Twenty notes of appreciation? Yes. Twenty Christmas-scented candles? A bit overpowering. Twenty bedazzled photo frames? Eek.



Struggling at Christmas


Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but even more so for families with children who are deep into the Christmas Spirit. For many parents though, this time of year brings heartache, guilt, and dread due to lack of funds. We all know that Christmas is not about the gifts, but a little holiday joy can sure go a long way. If you are one of those parents who are struggling, now is the time to reach out and get help.


Toys for Tots is a volunteer-run program that donates toys to parents who cannot afford to buy them for their children 0-14 years old. Low income families must register through a social service agency. Agencies include, but are not limited to:

Addiction Services Thames Valley

Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services and Zhaawanong Shelter

Boys and Girls Club of London

Carrefour des Femmes du Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario

Children’s Aid Society

Clarke Road Shelter

Community Living London

Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre

Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre

Hutton House Learning Centre

Keeping Kids Warm

London Abused Women’s Centre

Merrymount Children’s Centre

Mutual Aid Parenting Program

N’Amerind Friendship Centre

Oneida Nation Headstart Program

Pathways Skill Development and Placement Centre

Single Women in Motherhood

South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre

Teen Challenge Farm

Thames Valley Children’s Centre

Women’s Community House

WOTCH Community Mental Health Services

Unity Project

Vanier Children’s Services

Salvation Army Christmas Hamper/Angel Tree

The Salvation Army collects toys through their seasonal Angel Tree’s and provides families in need with a Christmas hamper filled with food for a traditional Christmas meal and a gift for each child. For more information, please see their website or contact the local office.

School Board

If your children are of school age, you may be able to receive help from other families within your board. Teachers and principals will often put forward names or information about families in need in their school which will be supported anonymously by different groups. Please contact someone in your child’s school that you are comfortable sharing with.

Local Church

Many churches and parishes in London provide Christmas hampers or gifts to families in their parish or area. Some may be limited to parishioners only, some will be open to anyone living within the area. Parish staff may also be able to refer you to other places that can help you at this time.

Do not be afraid to ask for help and do not wait. Most people fall into a position of needing help through events that are out of their control and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Services are there for you.


The Gift of Life


It is a sad fact that only 4% of Canadians donate blood and that those 4% of Canadians will need to save the lives of accident victims, transplant patients, people fighting cancer, and every other Canadian who finds themselves in need.

Every minute of every day,someone in Canada needs blood.


A significant portion of the 96% not donating are not doing it because they don’t believe they can.

Are you between the ages of 17 and 60?

Do you weigh at least 110lbs? 

Has it been at least 6 months since you had a tattoo or piercing or since you have been pregnant?

If you answered YES to all three of those questions, you have passed the first hurdle. The next questions they will ask involve whether you have traveled outside of Canada or the USA in the last 12 months and whether you are on any prescription medications. Both questions have some answers that will determine your eligibility, but answering YES to either does not automatically count you out. See HERE for more information.

The last questions determining eligibility concern your overall health on the day of your appointment and making sure that it has been at least 24-72 hours since your last vaccination and/or dental work.


This is probably a more realistic reason that most people don’t donate blood. Not many people enjoy needles! The actual process of donating blood is not nearly as daunting as you think it will be and the nurses/staff at the donation centres are extremely kind and grateful for your presence. They will treat you with the utmost tenderness if you explain your fears. You don’t even have to see the needle or the blood – just ask that your arm be covered. Still nervous? Bring a friend to hold your hand!


The entire appointment will take approximately one hour. You will arrive and go through the initial screening. You will have your finger pricked and your hemoglobin tested. Once you have passed that part, you will be given a list of questions to answer privately. When you are finished, you will be taken to a private room with a nurse. S/he will check your blood pressure, temperature, and arms for sign of IV drug use. If you are cleared, s/he will go through the first list of questions with you for clarification and then ask the second list of questions. Have you made it this far? Congratulations! You are almost there.

A pile of bags and tubes will be labelled and you will be led to a comfortable reclining chair/bed. Take a deep breath, this is where your heart might start to pound. The nurse will chat with you a bit as s/he sterilizes your inner elbow. Then comes the needle. Let the nurse know if you’re scared! Watch or don’t watch, it’s your choice. It only hurts for a second and then it just feels a little uncomfortable. The nurse will fiddle around for a bit, collecting vials of blood before leaving you for the rest of the donation to collect itself. This part will take approximately 10 minutes, depending on your body and how well hydrated you are that day. Moving your fingers around might help things happen faster. Relax. Watch TV, scroll through LondonMoms on your phone, or read a book. Make sure you take a selfie to show all of your friends what a rockstar you are!

When your bag is full, it will alert the nurse who will remove the needle. Oh, sweet relief. Apply pressure until you are allowed to go, but don’t go too far – this is the best part. Say HI to the volunteers as you sit and have a drink and some cookies. After about 15 minutes, you are free to go about your day knowing that you just saved someone’s life. YOU DID THAT. Thank you. Come back again in 56 days.

Have you ever donated blood? Book your appointment now by calling 1 888 2 DONATE or by visiting HERE.


West 49′s Coats for Kids


West 49 is having their 12th annual COAT DRIVE FOR KIDS. For the last 12 years they have been collecting coats for families in need across Canada. Coats are donated to local charitable organizations that help families in their community. From now until November 19th there will be coat collection barrels at both their Masonville and White Oaks Mall locations.

Coats collected will be donated to children in need through Rotholme Women’s & Family Shelter and the Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre.

Since West 49 began their Coat Drive in 2002, they have given more than 88000 coats to children across Canada!

As a very generous THANK YOU everyone who brings in a clean, insulated, gently used winter coat to a West 49 location in Canada will receive $25 off any men’s, women’s or youth winter jacket $99 and up to be used in store.

Find West 49 on Twitter and Instagram @west49


Koats for Kids


Every year the Boys and Girls Club of London collects and donates winter clothing to local children and youths. As the weather begins to change, the Boys and Girls Club is reaching out to Londoners and asking for help. Every year more than 5000 pieces of winter wear are handed out to kids who would otherwise be going without. After a winter like last year, it is hard to imagine going without a warm coat and mitts. This is the last week to drop off any donations you have before they are handed out. Take some time this weekend to clean out your closets and spread the warmth.

WHAT IS NEEDED: new or gently used winter coats, snow pants, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and boots, all sizes.

WHERE TO DONATE: Coats and warm items can be dropped off at the Boys and Girls Club up until Halloween, Friday, October 31, at 184 Horton Street. Additional drop off locations can be found HERE. Donations will be accepted at alternative locations until Monday, October 27.

IF YOU NEED A COAT: If your child is in need of a winter coat, drop by the Boys and Girls Club on November 1, 9am to 4pm or November 2, 10am to 2pm. There will be one coat per child, while supplies last. ID is required for each child. There are no coats for adults.

If you have any questions, please call the Boys and Girls Club (519) 434-9114 ext. 241