Ballet class

Photography Courtesy of Blythe Sheppard (IG: @blytheshep)

Give back with these five feel-good Toronto activities

Looking for something fun to do? Why not contribute to your community while you’re at it. Here’s how

There’s no shortage of stuff to do in our big, beautiful city but many of the coolest pastimes come with the added benefit of giving back. Here are five feel-good Toronto activities that could change someone else’s life for the better.

1Break a sweat

Need some extra motivation to exercise? What if your regular workout came with the bonus of supporting your local community? Give your running routine an end goal by signing up for a charity race. You could ditch a boring gym for your local YMCA, which provides inclusive community services for new Canadians and youth in addition to hosting entertaining exercise classes. There are also plenty of private fitness clubs that offer great ways to give back. Fit Factory Fitness regularly creates obstacle races for local non-profits, while barre-based fitness studio Barreworks offers monthly “Raise the Barre” charity classes where 50 percent of the proceeds are donated to local organizations.

2Find your festival

It’s rare to have a weekend where there isn’t a road closed somewhere in the city for a festival — and they happen all year round. Sure, you could simply attend one, but why not enrich the experience by offering your time as a volunteer? The city of Toronto offers a handy calendar where you can pick the festival that sounds like the most fun to you, whether it’s Taste of Asia in Markham, the Beaches International Jazz Festival, Taste of Lawrence in Scarborough, Salsa on St. Clair or The International Film Festival in the fall.

3Be a mentor

Was there someone in your life who you’ll never forget because they helped you get where you are today? You could be that person for someone else! There are mentoring programs across our region that can match your skills to help support someone in the community. The Region of Peel’s mentoring partnership connects skilled immigrants to established professionals in their field, while in Toronto’s east end, the Scarborough Women’s Centre trains volunteers to help women break their isolation and be more in charge of their lives. In addition to emotional support, mentors can also assist women with reading, writing and math.

Photography By Nata_Vkusidey/Adobe Stock

4Order in

Go ahead—treat yourself to delivery! Ordering a socially responsible meal gives you a chance to give back from the comfort of your couch. You can even host a night in with friends and sample traditional Syrian dishes. New menus are revealed every Monday at Newcomer Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides weekly meal pick-up and delivery services where all the meals are cooked by newly arrived Syrian refugee women (proceeds are shared among the cooks). Or, give Feedback a try. This new app enables users to access time-specific deals from the city’s best restaurants during off-peak hours, helping to reduce food waste. The company also donates meals to those in need.

5Swap clothes

Make swapping your new shopping. Clothing swaps are a money-saving and environmentally friendly alternative to a trip to the mall. Evergreen Brickworks regularly holds “Drop, Swap and Shop” events where attendees can exchange their unwanted clothes, electronics and other items for things they actually want. For a high-tech alternative, consider downloading Bunz— the Toronto-based app is a local trading and barter platform for people all over the city who want to swap their stuff. It’s a great way to keep stuff out of the landfill, and you just might make a connection with someone new in your community.