Whenever many of us hear the word Christmas, our thoughts perhaps go towards family, food and presents. However, as many cliché Hollywood films like to remind us, the holiday season is also a time for giving. This can be a difficult time of year for some vulnerable members in society. In recent years, the ‘reverse advent calendar’ has been popularised, subverting the concept of a traditional advent calendar to promote the idea of giving something back. Not only will small acts of charity improve someone else’s Christmas, it can’t hurt to get yourself some good karma in time for the New Year! So here are twelve suggestions for small ways you can make a difference before the end of the year!
- Donate to a food bank – There are many people who struggle to put food on the table throughout this festive season. In 2017, food banks 1.3 million crisis packs were sent to those in dire need. Check what foods are most in demand at your local centre and buy a little extra next time you’re at the checkout; it can go a long way to improving someone’s Christmas.
- Donate to your local charity shop – Charity shops are a staple of the British high street and a great way to help others, whilst also clearing room for all your new presents!
- Visit a nursing home– Christmas can be a difficult time for elderly members of society; Age UK estimates that 850,000 older people will feel lonely over the festive period. Therefore, visiting your local nursing home and talking to some of the residents can help lift their mood. You could play games, read to them, and who knows, you could even make a fabulous new friend!
- Make a charitable donation – Although Christmas can force all of us to tighten our belts, any donation (no matter how small) is always appreciated by your local charities. Give A Book is one of our favourites.
- Adopt A School Book Club – A book is one of the most valuable gifts you can give, opening your imagination to fascinating worlds. By adopting a school book club you can give students the opportunity to build character skills, improve communication and and encourage reading for pleasure.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter – Many charities do amazing work this time of year ensuring that nobody must go without food or shelter on Christmas day. You can help in their mission by offering your time to your local homeless shelter or visiting crisis.org.uk.
- Shoebox Appeal– The Samaritans ‘Operation Christmas Child’ aims to give presents to those who have nothing. Although it is now too late to build your own shoebox for a child in need, there’s still time to pack and personalise a gift pack online at samaritans-purse.org.uk.
- Shop via Amazon Smile – Amazon can be a life saver in the panicked last-minute present rush! So if you’ll be using to Amazon to shop for presents this year, be sure to do it via https://smile.amazon.co.uk; you get to shop as normal yet a percentage of each purchase goes to charity.
- Donating time or blankets to an animal shelter – Donating your time or spare blankets can help show unwanted animals the love and affection they crave! Plus, petting an animal has been scientifically proven to lower stress and blood pressure – what better excuse to get to know the cute creatures they home!!
- Buy and send charity Christmas cards – Making sure your Christmas cards support a verified charity is one of the easiest ways to help others this Christmas.
- Volunteer to read at your local School – Schools are always looking for ways to keep children engaged and volunteering to read for them is a fantastic way to do this; the experience of having a new person in the classroom increases excitement and sparks interest.
- Carol Singing for a Cause – Many charities run Carol Singing programmes throughout the month of December. Not only is this a great way to raise money but it also helps you get in to festive spirit, plus who doesn’t love a good sing song?
By Chloe Osmond