practical ways canadians can help syrian refugees
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Recent attacks in Paris and Beirut and haunting pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach have brought the refugee crisis to the top of our minds and hearts this fall. Many of us want to help, but are daunted by the logistics of it all. Here’s a realistic guide to the things we can all do to help Syrian refugees.

Donate to Aid Organizations Working in Syria
At this stage in the conflict it’s too dangerous for regular civilians to travel to Syria to try to help. But you can give money to some of the people who are there, helping people on the ground. It’s one of the simplest and yet most helpful things you can do. Many organizations are feeling the financial strain of a crisis that has been ongoing for four years. Furthermore, the Canadian government will match cash donations made in response to the conflict in Syria until December 31, 2015. 

Here are some of the many reputable organizations helping out with frontline services:

World Food Programme
Providing nutritious food for the hungry and the needy, the World Food Programme is the food assistance branch of the United Nations. It’s 100% voluntarily funded, so it really needs people’s help and donations in order to continue doing great work. Simply select Canada as the country of residence, then select Help Syrian refugees (or whoever else you wish to donate to). Choose your tax-deductible donation and pay.

Unicef Canada
This child-focused humanitarian organization works to guarantee the wellbeing of children that have already been saved. The United Nation’s child fund understands that just because a child has been rescued from death or starvation does not mean they have reached a level of security and comfort. Buy a blanket for a baby, a tetanus pack for a mother and her child, or send urgent aid to wherever is most needed.

Sponsor a Syrian Family
If you’re looking to do more than donate money, and have some serious organizational and fundraising skills, consider sponsoring a family. It’s not an undertaking to be taken lightly—by all accounts it is a lot of work. But it can be done! The best way is to get your community together—your church, school, or neighborhood, and make it a group effort. With a committed team, it’s do-able. We know a few savvy moms currently working towards this goal, and they’ve found this website by a Toronto school to be very helpful and inspiring as a jumping-off point.


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breast or bottle
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A blow to the Mom Wars and mom shaming, thoughts on doing our kids’ homework for them, a beautifully simple father-son conversation, being more productive and fried chicken. That’s what caught our attention this week.

What We’re Talking About: One of our own dealing a blow to the Mom Wars
One of our Savvy Storytellers, Rebecca Cuneo Keenan, had an excellent piece published recently in the Globe and Mail. The article, titled, ‘Why the breastfeeding debate isn’t so clear cut’, is a thoughtful piece about breastfeeding advocacy and the age old breast or bottle debate. Rebecca talks about the rise of ‘lactivism’—a term coined by University of Toronto professor Courtney Jung, meaning the ‘increasing sentiment that what a woman feeds her baby is everybody’s business and that the assumed superiority of breast milk over formula justifies intense shaming exactly when a new mother is at her most vulnerable.’ We at Savvy believe firmly there’s no one right way to feed your baby—every mother has to figure out what works best for her and her family. Rebecca, as usual, has crafted a well-researched and wonderfully stated article—which we highly recommend reading.


What We’re Reading: A great article about letting kids fail
Do you help your kids with their homework? What about their larger, more important assignments? Is it ever OK? We’ve all faced this dilemma, and the author of this excellent piece in The New York Times admits that too. We thoroughly enjoyed reading the article—which was written by a mom who’s been there and crossed that line, too—but who also doesn’t skirt around the hard truth. Take this excerpt from the article, for example: ‘Finn’s [poster] was a last-minute flail, and we both knew it. I said nothing, because I knew that the experience of having to stand behind his work […] would speak louder, and more persuasively, than I ever could. Two years later, when faced with a similar project, […] he gave it everything he had.’

flowers and candles

What We’re Watching: A frank father-son conversation about the Paris attacks
This video doesn’t need much preamble. A Parisian dad and his son have an on-air conversation with a reporter about feeling afraid in the wake of the attacks in Paris. The Dad is frank and speaks simply—and that’s the beauty of it.

What We’re Doing: Hacking our to-do lists recently interviewed Laura Vanderkam, who is a successful entrepreneur, marathoner, writer, author, speaker, and mom of four. (We’re exhausted just thinking about it.) Laura spilled her 13 hacks for being more productive, and we thought she was really on to something. Our favourite time management hack from the article? Lower your housekeeping standards. Laura says, ‘So what if the toys are out in the playroom? You’re not there.’

fake fried chicken

What We’re Eating: Fake fried chicken
Who doesn’t love Shake ‘N Bake chicken? If you’re like us, and our food editor, Jan, you probably grew up on it. Jan always seems to know what we’re craving before we do—because she surprised us this week with a recipe for a homemade version of the classic recipe. Jan points out that this is one of those recipes where the finished product tastes equally delicious hot out of the oven and cold from the fridge—making it ideally suited for those nights when you’re not sure what family members will be home and when.

Have a good week.

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