We tend to focus on the negative that surrounds us. I love hearing about not-for-profit organizations that are making a difference in our communities. The people who drive these organizations and movements are local heroes and they deserve more attention.

I want to hear more stories about people doing more positive things for those in need. Here are 4 organizations that are making a difference in your community.

Antonio’s Toy Drive

Greg and Helen Psarologos have been fundraising around the holidays for several years. In 2010 after the birth of their son Antonio, they changed the name of their annual toy drive in his honour, Antonio’s Toy Drive to raise awareness for Down Syndrome, and began to fundraise for Surrey Place Centre​ in Toronto. Surrey Place Centre helps children and adults living with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and visual impairments reach their full potential.

Due to Antonio’s recent diagnosis of Leukemia, this year’s toy drive will be an online fundraiser. New unwrapped toys can be dropped off in various locations around Toronto, which will then be donated to Surrey Place Centre.

The family has also created a HEROES calendar with the proceeds going to Special Olympics of Ontario Active Start Program, DSAT and Camp Ooch, a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with and affected by childhood cancer with unique opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.

For more information and to buy the calendar, visit http://www.psarologos.ca.

4 Organizations Making a Difference

The ShoeBox Project

What do you do with all of your old shoeboxes? Here’s a fabulous way to give back to your community. Save your old shoe boxes and fill them with goodies for a woman in need. It’s easy to make a shoebox and to have it delivered to a woman in a shelter.

Save the swag you collect at events or parties, like make-ups and creams and create a lovely shoebox with items with a $50 total value to have delivered to a woman in a shelter across Canada.

The founders wanted to make a small difference in the community through an in-kind project, that didn’t require much money or infrastructure. They rely on the kindness and generosity of others to help brighten the holidays of others. It’s also a project you can do with our children that creates a meaningful experience for the whole family.

For more information, visit http://www.shoeboxproject.com/.

4 Organizations Making a Difference

Project Village

Anna Gala started Project Village which aims to employ and empower underprivileged Toronto women in a sustainable way and help them reach their personal and socioeconomic goals.

Through transformational coaching, positive social influences, empowering support systems and healthy work environments, Gala feels we can help break the cycle of poverty and dependence… dependence on social services that only dis-empower so many underprivileged people today.

Each women’s journey will be different and tailored to her specific goals and dreams. Whether they be to go back to school, move to a better area, buy healthier food, buy a car, whatever it is, Gala will make a plan to help her achieve it.

For more information, visit http://www.projectvillage.ca/.

4 Organizations Making a Difference

To Write Love on Her Arms

TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

They address mental health issues on a number of levels by engaging college students, hosting educational conferences, offering internships, investing directly into treatment and recovery, and much more. These programs, campaigns, and events are the heart of TWLOHA.

For more information, visit twloha.com.


To Write Love On Her Arms



Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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