The charity work that Chalice Canada works on has changed over time, from helping farmers to helping entrepreneurs. Photo/Pixabay

Chalice’s gifts are changing with the times

  • December 17, 2016

From seeds for farmers to seed money for businesses, Chalice Canada has been evolving its charity work to match the fast-changing needs in developing countries.

Through its annual Gift Catalogue, the Catholic charity allows donors to select a specific item which they’d like to donate.

As more people look to entrepreneurship rather than agriculture to elevate themselves out of poverty, Chalice Canada has been rethinking its gift list.

“In the beginning most of the gifts that we had on the catalogue and the donations that we were receiving mostly were broad things or very basic items such as animals and farming seeds,” said Douglas Estanga, Chalice Canada’s international manager for Latin America. “One of the ways that we’ve evolved is by including new items and categories that will help to have a more extensive impact on the communities where we work (by supporting) small business and entrepreneurship.”

Chalice’s Canadian roots began in 1994 when Fr. Patrick Cosgrove started laying the groundwork for the organization as an extension of the American-based Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. Working with a volunteer out of a church rectory in Springhill, N.S., Cosgrove registered the charity in 1996 under the name Christian Child Care International.

In January 2008 the charity, whose head office is now in Bedford, N.S., became Chalice Canada.

In 2014, it put almost $20 million into nutrition, education and shelter programs in 15 developing countries, including areas of Africa and South and Central America, according to its annual report.

“You know that it is a coat, that it is seeds of planting, that it is helping somebody go to school,” he said. “That idea or concept of having something very specific that you are providing to somebody is really appealing.”

In addition to basic items, donors are able to invest in a recipient’s future by funding small business setups, continuing education and trades training.

There is also a category called Most Needed Gift.

“It goes towards items or things that might not be in the categories, that are not within animals or livelihood, but are also needed in the communities but are not as common,” said Estanga. “We tell the sites that we have this amount of money for their most needed items and then they put forward a request to us as to what is the most needed item for them and the other families that is not in the categories that we have.”

This approach to supporting development is as important as addressing the immediate needs of those in need, he added.

“One of the ideas of international development is to not only provide people with things that they can consume right away, but also to help them to develop new trades or improve their trades or small businesses,” said Estanga.

“In some cases what they need helps with farming because that is what is available and that is what they can do where they live. But in some other areas it may be more urban and then they may need help with welding equipment or some other tools for their trade which there is a market for where they live.

“That’s why it goes beyond just basic things such as farming and animals into opportunities for small businesses (and trades people.)”

For more information about Chalice Canada, go to

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