Christmas isn’t only about receiving expensive gifts and enjoying tasty food. It’s important to consider giving a little something to those less fortunate than ourselves. This time of year is extra tough for families living in poverty. With the cold weather comes the extra cost of heating (anyone who’s ever had a pre-paid meter will know you can literally watch your money burn whenever you turn on the heating) along with the pressure of Christmas. This is the busiest time of year for food banks with so many families struggling to make ends meet. With this in mind this year I’ve decided I want to give something back this Christmas. There are so many ways you can give back this Christmas from donating food, money or time. Whatever you decide to do it feels good to be able to give back to someone who needs it more than you do, especially at this time of year. I’ve thought of a few ways you can give back this Christmas which don’t require too much time or money.
I’ve signed up to take part in the Co-op’s reverse advent campaign which involves donating something every day in the run-up to Christmas. Co-op have kindly sent me a cardboard box to fill with my donations as well as a £5 voucher to help me get started. But you don’t have to use the Co-op box, any old cardboard box or basket (even an old shopping bag) will do. I have decided to fill my box with donations for my local food bank. I was shocked when looking up information on my local food bank at how many food packages they give out over the holidays. Edinburgh is a very wealthy city and it’s so easy to forget about those families living in poverty in our city (I’m sure the situation is similar in other cities across the country). My local supermarket has a collection point inside so donating food is so quick and easy. I’ve been filling my reverse advent box by buying a little extra when I go to the shops. Our local food bank has a handy shopping list online letting you know what they need. I’m only a few days in and it’s starting to fill up already. I plan on donating my box a little earlier (Co-op suggest Christmas Eve) as I want whoever gets it to have the food for Christmas day.
What to include in your reverse advent box
One of the easiest ways to give back at Christmas is to do it through your Christmas shopping. Buy from brands which give back to the community when you shop. The Soap Co is a great brand for Christmas gifts which reinvests its profits back into creating jobs and opportunities for blind and disabled adults in the community. I included lots of great brands which not only produce great products but do good at the same time in my ethical gift guide.
Another super simple way to give back at Christmas is to buy an extra gift for a child when shopping. There are lots of local charities which provide gifts for children living in poverty making sure every child gets a visit from Santa. I’ve been doing this for a few years now after a heartbreaking chat with a child who didn’t get anything for Christmas (I used to work for a children’s charity). My local supermarket has a collection point for children’s gifts making it very easy to donate. A quick Google search should help you find charities providing gifts for children in your area. If you’re in Edinburgh it’s Cash for Kids who are doing it here (they also operate in other areas).
I’m a little hesitate to suggest this as volunteering should be a long term commitment and not just something for the holidays. Having worked in charities I know that a lot of time and effort goes into training volunteers so most charities expect a long term commitment. However like everywhere else this is a busy time of year for charities so I’m sure many would appreciate an extra pair of hands. If you have the time to give try contacting local homeless shelters, soup kitchens or food banks to see if they want extra help. If you want to continue giving back in the new year and have the time sign up as a volunteer with your favourite local charity. Most towns have a volunteer centre who will be able to help you find the right position for you. But remember volunteering is a big commitment and you do have to put in the time every week.
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