Blogmas 2017 - Day 9: Thinking of others

Christmas, for me, is a time to step back and really appreciate what I have, as well as give back a little if I can.  It's no coincidence that around Christmas a lot of charities launch fundraising appeals. It's a time where giving is at the forefront of lots of people's minds, but unfortunately it's a time of year where people also tend to be pretty strapped for cash!

It'll come as no surprise that what really helps charities the most is money and, if I can, I tend to choose one charity to make a small Christmas donation to. However, if you're feeling the pinch and would like to still give back a little how about trying some of these:

Make the best of freebies you don't really need
Doing your weekly shop and been sucked in by a BOGOF offer, but you really don't need a second tin of peaches/box of teabags/bag of pasta? Why not pick it up anyway and donate it to your local food bank? Most supermarkets have a collection point after the checkouts, but if not you can find your nearest collection point with a quick Google search, or The Trussell Trust page is a pretty good starting point. (I don't think there's a central "food bank" webpage where you can search for your nearest. If there is, do let me know and I'll drop in the link!)

Last year I heard via Facebook that a group of local people were collecting together items for women and children who would be spending Christmas in a refuge. I donated some surplus (obviously unopened) baby toiletries we had lying around, a couple of extra gift sets I had from special offers such as the Boots 3 for 2 Mix and Match offer, and I then topped up my donation with some bits and pieces (toothpaste, face wipes, mini hair brushes, nail varnish, chocolate) I picked up cheaply from supermarkets and Wilkos, many on offer. I probably didn't spend much more than £15, but managed to put together about 5 gift bags. Facebook and local papers are great for finding out about schemes like this, but if this is a cause close to your heart and you can't find a scheme locally to you do check out the Refuge Christmas Gift List.

Put your talents to good use
If you are a knitter and have some left over wool, why not see if your local neonatal unit needs anything? There are lots of good ideas and pointers over on the Bliss website. Before you get started do check the policies of your local hospital, and please don’t send anything directly to Bliss.

If, like me, you can’t knit to save your life why not send a letter or card to a sick child in hospital? Just hop on the Post Pals website, select a profile, write a letter, and post it. Easy.  

Donate your "pre-Christmas clear out" items
I can't be the only person to have had a clear out before the new influx of toys on Christmas Day? If you have lots of things that need to go, but you aren't able to drop them off anywhere yourself, did you know that British Heart Foundation will collect them? You can also add Gift Aid to you donated items. I'm betting they'll be pretty busy in the run up to Christmas though so get your slot booked pronto.

Giving time
I know time is something we tend to be short of, and wish we could find more of, but it could make all the difference to a charitable organisation and their clients. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities to be found throughout the year, but if you were fancying something over the festive period check out your local volunteer centre or visit the Do-It website.

Finally, I know it's a theme running through the whole of this post but, Christmas isn't the happiest time of year for a lot of people. Many people will be spending Christmas Day alone, but it might not be out of choice. Whatever the reason they find themselves alone on a day which so many people associate with the good company of family and friends, Christmas can be really very lonely and isolating. For this reason comedian Sarah Millican will be hosting #joinin over on her Twitter page. A really simple concept. On Christmas Day Sarah is encouraging those who feel lonely to use the #joinin hashtag on Twitter to chat to each other. I try not to be glued to my phone on Christmas Day but I do plan to drop online to join in the conversation, even if just for a few minutes.