December 26 is a conundrum of a day. For some, it’s an all-day couch-a-thon, while others bundle up and head to the nearest mound of snow to try out new sleds and outdoor toys. And for some intrepid bargain-hunters, it’s a mall marathon of post-holiday deal hunting. Celebrated the day after Christmas, Boxing Day is a public holiday started in England in the 19th century that spread to its British colonies where countries such as Australia, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Canada still observe it today.
History of Boxing Day
The exact origins of the day and its unusual name aren’t known for certain, but we can be sure it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing and department store sales. The term Boxing Day was first used in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1833, though it may trace its roots back to as early as the tenth century and the duke of Bohemia, Wenceslas I, known for his charity and immortalized in the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas and the final words of the song: “Ye, who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”
Other theories suggest the term comes from the tradition of distributing the contents of church collection boxes to the poor on December 26, also celebrated as the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr and known for his charitable acts. Another explanation is that the day after Christmas was when wealthy English aristocracy boxed up leftovers and gifts for their servants to take home to their families.
While the origins may be fuzzy and traditions have changed over the centuries, one element is fairly certain: aiding those less fortunate is the motivation behind the holiday. While many charitable agencies receive donations during the pre-Christmas rush of toy and food drives, help is needed throughout the year. If you’re in a position to give, consider donating or volunteering with the organizations listed below.
Support Local Charities
Logifem has been providing shelter and care to women and children in Montreal since 1988. The housing crisis and increase in conjugal violence during the past 18 months has greatly increased the need for support and safe housing for women and children in need. To see how you can help, visit logifem.org
Corbeille de Pain/ Bread Basket Lac-Saint-Louis serves vulnerable citizens in the West Island’s southern section and aims to promote the accessibility, availability, and affordability of healthy foods to the community. You can support their mission by making a donation or by purchasing their new cookbook at corbeilledepain.com
The Welcome Collective is a non-profit organization that supports newcomers in Montreal/Tiohti:áke. They provide basic furniture and essential household items, and guidance and information about social services and local resources to refugee claimants, refugees, and other under-resourced newcomers. To donate money, time, or items, visit welcomecollective.org
VOBOC supports adolescents and young adults affected by cancer. Their mission is to “equip, engage and empower adolescents and young adults with cancer to improve their experiences and health outcomes.” Help make a difference by becoming a volunteer, a community partner, making a monetary donation, and more. Visit voboc.org for more information.
West Island Citizen Advocacy has been operating for 40 years helping vulnerable and isolated people. Its purpose is to “support and defend the rights of vulnerable or disadvantaged people in its community to improve their quality of life.” The organization is actively looking for volunteers to match with individuals on their waiting list. If you can offer your time to help provide social support, or help with tasks call 514-694-5850 or visit volunteerwica.com
Action jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’île (AJOI) offers youth outreach and intervention in addition to the Halte Transition emergency accommodation shelter in Pierrefonds. Their mission is to establish and maintain street outreach work services for youth aged 12 to 25 years old on the West Island. To donate, volunteer, or participate in fundraising events visit ajoi.info
Fondation Espace Espoir offers chronically ill or disabled children between the ages of 4 and 17 a renovated bedroom. By transforming the space in which these children spend most of their time the foundation hopes to enhance the lives of these young people into a bright space that inspires them to stay positive. If you would like to make a monetary donation, provide a good or service needed to help complete a project, or participate in a fundraising activity visit espaceespoir.org
Le Phare Enfants et Familles offers a range of pediatric palliative care services for children and adolescents under 18 and provides respite and assistance services and bereavement follow-up to their families. Le Phare welcomes these children to Maison André-Gratton, the only pediatric palliative care home in Quebec offering both respite stays and end-of-life care. The organization also offers respite at home and support to families and all services are free. To learn how to donate or get involved, phare-lighthouse.com
Chez Doris is a charitable organization offering a daytime shelter seven days a week for vulnerable and homeless women in Montreal. Chez Doris provides meals, respite, clothing, socio-recreational activities, and practical assistance, as well as an overnight shelter from the beginning of December to the end of March to those experiencing homelessness. To make a monetary donation, donate food or clothing, or to become a volunteer visit chezdoris.org
The Montreal Diet Dispensary organization aims to foster optimal infant health through social nutrition interventions with pregnant women in precarious situations. The Dispensary offers support to individuals, families, and communities through virtual workshops, food and material support, lactation and perinatal care consultants, and more. To see how you can help, visit dispensaire.ca