The season of giving back

happy christmas

Simon Ritchie takes a look at how you can help others this Christmas…

New iPhone or new PlayStation? Mulberry bag or Michael Kors watch? While for most of us these are the biggest worries at Christmas, the less fortunate are asking where their next meal will come from or if they’ll be able to buy a winter coat. Happily, there’s plenty of opportunities for you to help out and spread the season of goodwill to more than just your family and friends.

Charity shops

Trendier than ever thanks to Macklemore’s hit Thrift Shop and the fashion for everything vintage, many charity stores are a lifeline supplying affordable clothing and everyday essentials, as well as raising funds for worthy causes. While the quickest way to help is by donating your old clobber, those of you with more time can volunteer too. Whether it’s ironing clothes, sorting donations,  or manning the register, there are plenty of roles to be filled – and it’s retail experience that will look great on a CV, not to mention the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from doing something good.

Food banks

People from all walks of life receive assistance from food banks – over 50,000 of them last year – and, with the added financial pressure, Christmas is a particularly busy time. The Trussell Trust (www.trusselltrust.org) operate 43 sites across the country and are always looking for volunteers to help pack, sort, and distribute food to those who need it.

Fundraising

Fancy yourself as a bit of an entertainer? Raise money for your charity of choice with some Christmas-themed busking. While you don’t need a licence to busk there are certain rules to follow so check your local council website, and get the backing of the organisation you intend to help. For us less talented folk, try organising an event at your work, school, college or uni that encourages classmates, colleagues and customers to donate, or pledge a percentage of the money you make yourself over Christmas to a worthy cause.

Neighbours

While we celebrate with our family and friends, over half a million pensioners will spend Christmas alone. Spread some festive cheer by simply popping in for a chat with an elderly neighbour or go further by helping with everyday tasks like taking out their bins or picking up their shopping. It doesn’t need to be a senior citizen either – all small gestures can make a real difference by bringing areas together, and being active in the community is a great way to network and open up other opportunities.

As Macaulay Culkin learns in Home Alone 2, good deeds count extra at Christmas, so take advantage by giving some time to help those down on their luck and you’ll find it can be even more rewarding than receiving gifts yourself.

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