Every year I try to do a little something for a charity, it helps them and yes, it makes me feel good too. I don’t just do it to feel good, I do it because everybody needs help sometimes, and I could be one of those “sometimes” sometime (hopefully not but you never know what’s around the corner). It has become a little bit harder asking people for sponsorship though, as everybody is finding it a little bit harder now and with Small Monkey it’s a little harder to take part in hikes and races and such. So to combat this I’ve started a new Christmas tradition (there’ll be a post to follow on this too) for us as a family….The Christmas Shoebox…or Gift Bags in our case.
I chose the following charities as they are more local to me and I think the charities at home are often slightly overlooked. Don’t get me wrong, I know their are people suffering all over the world but sometimes charity does begin at home. (You can click on the headers and highlights for links to the charity’s page or site. The * beside each will bring you to an Irish equivalent if possible. Please also make sure that if you donate, it is to a legitimate charity.)
This brilliant charity takes your unused toiletries & cosmetics and distributes them to women and families in domestic violence refuges across the UK. I liked this because the charity is happy to take what you have lurking about in your bathroom cupboard, in fact they suggest you have a clear out, so you don’t have to spend loads buying stuff to put in, ‘cos that can really add up. I had loads of nail varnishes and lotions and potions I haven’t seen since four Christmas’ ago that now have a happy new home. I also included some light hearted books I’d finished reading and some tops I no longer wear but that are in good condition. I did buy a few bits & pieces and a couple of Christmassy bits to pop in the boxes too though. To finish it off I covered the shoeboxes in Christmas paper and included a little Christmas card. Small Monkey enjoyed helping me put the little bits in the boxes, even if we did fall out a few times over whether or not the sweets were his.
The charity has finished its collections now for this year but keep them in mind for next year, and as they point out…refuges are open all year round, crying out for extra supplies.
I contacted the Foodbank after they replied to my post on a local FB page regarding local charities that would accept USED kids toys. Unfortunately, it seems most places will only take brand new boxed toys, which a) I couldn’t afford to buy new toys and b) it wasn’t solving my problem of Small Monkey’s excess of toys and books he doesn’t touch any more. The Foodbank, as the name suggests, deals mainly in supplying 3 day food parcels for local people in crisis. I watched a program earlier in the year that showed a lot of parents skip meals every day to feed their kids as everything else had to go on the rent and bills. For me, what made it hit home more was that a lot of the people shown were people just like hubby and me, working every day. I’m not knocking people on benefits and such, I just think it’s a little sadder to know that people in employment aren’t even earning enough to eat! Anywho…after drifting a little there, Waterloo Foodbank was happy to accept our donation of Christmas bags of toys and books for kids. After going through all of Small Monkey’s books and toys we had enough to do four bags for 1.5-2yr olds. Again, I did buy a couple of Christmassy extras to put in the bags; the chocolate Santas, malteaser drinks, chocolate coins, tooth paste, tooth brushes and the Christmas activity packs, which came to about £10 in total. A couple of friends also contributed, S with the pjs and Big E with some extra lovely Ella’s Kitchen nibbles you don’t see in the pics. Everything else you see there is from our kitchen or Monkey’s toy box. Again Small Monkey wasn’t overly impressed when he noticed the toys were his, but he’s kinda learning to share so it was educational for him. 😀 If you do happen to notice a toy you have gifted my little man, please know it was appreciated and he did play with once but not any longer. These toys are going to good homes and will make another child smile. So before you throw out the old toys ask your local foodbank or refuge if they would accept them. There’s a list of local shelters here.
I learned about Big House through them being customers in my day job…by night I’m a superhero…obviously! Big House is a charity which specialises in providing sheltered accommodation for ex-servicemen from the BAF. It is funded by the Royal British Legion. I got chatting to the house manager, asking if they had families, what they did for Christmas, etc. He told me last year our local M&S supplied the food for their Christmas dinner but they don’t really have family so don’t have a celebration like us or presents and such. I told him about my Christmas “giving” idea and asked what I could do personally to help, he told me they can never have enough socks and pants! 😀 There’s 11 guys in the house at present, I just couldn’t leave anybody out so along with Big E, we made up a Christmas Gift bag each. They included a thermal hat or gloves each, a Christmas themed (of course) pair of socks and boxers, some Christmas themed sweeties and a hot choc each. I don’t know if I ever seen anybody so delighted as the house manager when I dropped them off and they weren’t even for him.
So there you go, a few local charities that you could help out if you wish. It doesn’t have to be just for Christmas, these charities will accept help all year round. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a material or monetary donation, it could just be your time. Alot of charities look for volunteers, such as Homeless UK, some charities just ask for your ears like Age UK with its telephone befriending service. Bisto, yes the gravy people are running Spare Chair Sunday, where you offer up a spare chair for your Sunday roast to an elderly person who would normally eat alone. Maybe all you can do is check in on your elderly neighbour next door, go and sit with them for an hour, or maybe the single parent down the street needs an ear….Charity can be so much more than a donation of money and material things, it can be a donation of you, your human touch.
So off ya go now…take leaf from Wizzard‘s book…go check on that grumpy auld lad next door, maybe he’s just lonely…”why don’t you give your love for Christmas?”