The Ultimate Gift

With our busy lives, the majority of us are scrambling at the last minute to find the perfect gift for our loved ones.  Jam-packed malls full of stressed out shoppers is personally not an appealing prospect in this last week before Christmas. As the work week winds down and we transition into holiday mode, I have had some time to reflect on other ways that we can give, not just on Christmas, but year round.

Recently, a family friend said goodbye to his brother who had succumbed to lung failure after a sudden infection. At his celebration of life, it was an opportunity to say goodbye, but also a time to celebrate that this man had been gifted an extended five years beyond what he would have, were it not for the ultimate gift of a double lung transplant five years prior. Instead of asking for donations made to charities in his memory, his family had requested that people spread the word about organ donation and reminded everyone to make sure that they had registered their consent to donate their organs or tissue.

In Ontario, organ donation is relatively rare and the impact is life-saving.  By registering your consent to donate, you relieve your family of the burden of making this decision on your behalf. This past year, I was disappointed when my colleague, MP Aboultaif’s private members bill C-223 was defeated by the Government. Bill C-223, Canadian Organ Donor Registry Act, would have educated and encouraged new donors and family members to sign up and was inspired by Aboultaif’s personal experience with his son, whose young life was saved because of a liver transplant. I urge everyone to take some time over the holidays to consider this life-saving gift that you can make by registering your consent to donate through Service Ontario.

“You have the power to give life” is a slogan used by Canadian Blood Services and it serves as another option of how you can give a gift of maximum impact this holiday season. Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn’t disappear just because it’s a time of celebration at Christmas. “Half of all Canadians will either need blood or know someone who will need blood at some point in their lives. Yet only four percent of Canadians donate.” (Canadian Blood Services) Clinics will be running province-wide over the holidays and what better way to make a difference for someone, than to save their life by donating.

Last week my staff participated at an event where volunteers filled Christmas hampers with food and toys that had been donated from local schools and food banks. Each table was marked off for the age and gender of the children and it was noticed that one table was nearly bare of items that had been donated. It’s not too late to seek out the various businesses and organizations that are collecting items and food for families who need the extra help this holiday season, to ensure that every child has a present to open on Christmas morning. Let`s make sure there are no girls or boys who go without.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Clarington and North Durham offer programs year round that pair `bigs and littles` to create long-lasting relationships that foster mentoring and confidence building in our young people. If this is something that you have thought about in the past, perhaps now is the time to look into making that life-changing commitment for a young person in your community.

Every year we are reminded of the gifts and the blessings in our lives, but it`s also an opportunity to look within ourselves to find ways that we can better our community by giving gifts that are more than monetary and whose impact is more profound. May you and your loved ones be blessed this holiday season. From my family to yours, please have a Merry Christmas.

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