With all the hustle and bustle that comes with the silly season, it's easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. Here are 11 ways you can give back to those in need.
It's so easy to get sidetracked this time of year as we max out our credit cards buying gifts, drink and eat like heathens, and play Mariah Carey's Christmas album until our ears bleed.
So before you go and spend your money on a pair of socks or fragrant soaps no one will use, here are 11 easy and charitable ways you can make a difference this Christmas.
1. Make a child in need smile
One of the most popular and effective ways to make a disadvantaged child smile this Christmas, is The Kmart Wishing Tree with Salvation Army. The Kmart Wishing Tree that ‘magically’ fills up with presents for disadvantaged kids is an institution this time of year, and a great way to help teach your kids about the power of giving.
Or if your kids are expecting the usual hoard of gifts this year, why not make some time now to go through the toys they’ve received over the last year, and put aside five they haven’t played with for a while? Donate it to St. Vinnies, a local church, mission or op shop, and this way kids have room for anything new, while another child can use the toy as happily as they did.
2. Donate your non-perishable food items
Why not purchase some extra non-perishable food items the next time you’re at the supermarket? The Connections UnitingCare Christmas Food & Gift Appeal supports children and are asking for non-perishable food items such as rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tuna, coffee, tea and festive treats along with gifts suitable for newborns and teenagers of both genders. You can also get in touch with The Smith Family who distribute tens of thousands of food hampers to needy families.
You could also research missions in your area that are looking for food donations and help make someone’s Christmas lunch a special one.
3. Give a goat
What do you give to someone that has everything? Consider giving a goat, pig, chicken or even clean water and other life-saving essentials through Oxfam’s Unwrapped. This is a gift that will really make a difference – a gift of a goat can be bred to create more goats, manure for farming and can be sold to pay for school fees or tools.
4. Give the gift of choice
There are so many charities it can be hard to choose just one, but with a Charity Gift Card your recipient will be empowered to choose the charities they wish to support. And with hundreds of charities and ethical projects to choose from, there's something for everyone.
5. Give blood
The need for blood never takes a holiday - even though many regular donors do - so this time of year is always a challenge for the Blood Service. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is asking Australians to consider giving a Christmas gift with true meaning this year by donating blood over the festive season. It only takes an hour to donate and potentially saves three lives.
6. Help the animals
Don’t forget the animals this Christmas! Shelters are overwhelmed this time of year, but there are ways you can help. Become a RSPCA Guardian Angel by making a donation or on behalf of a friend. After showing your support, you can see the animal that you helped have a happy and safe Christmas. You can also share your animal’s image with friends and family, which will increase the chances of finding a new home before December 25.
If you have a child that loves animals, why not adopt an endangered animal for this Christmas through WWF? Along with helping an orangatun, panda, tiger, elephant or turtle, you will also receive a cuddly toy and tote bag. It could kick off a life long love of conservation! Or, you could donate old blankets, toys or even dog and cat food to your local shelter.
7. Help the environment
Want to help restore our native forests? Greenfleet is a fantastic non-profit organisation that lets you convert carbon emissions into trees! You could also consider a Plant a Tree Universal VISA Gift Card – preloaded with money, and for every gift card purchased, one native tree will be planted by Greenfleet.
There are so many worthy environmental groups that need help this time of year – why not volunteer for Landcare Australia, or instead of giving flowers, give the gift of a potted native tree to plant in their yard instead.
8. Give a gift that gives twice
There are many brands such as TOMS, Inkkas as well as Oxfam that allow you to treat a loved one while helping a woman or child in a developing country at the same time. Dresses from Roopa Pemmaraju give proceeds back to the Aboriginal communities. Research some brands that produce their wares ethically, locally and sustainably, and put them at the top of your gift list.
9. Give green
“Sustainable” and “ethical” get thrown around a lot these days, but giving eco friendly gifts is a great way to support companies who are doing the right thing when it comes to manufacturing, production and shipping. Visit Shop Ethical for a run down of ethically minded brands.
10. Give your time
There are many charities that are in desperate need of volunteers this time of year – jobs could be anything from gift wrapping, sorting donated items, making deliveries (with a charity such as Meals on Wheels), preparing food, helping to raise money, or even serving up food in a soup kitchen. Volunteering Australia and Go Volunteer are excellent places to start.
11. Give your surplus
Got a bunch of stuff that could be donated, and not sure what to do with them? Check out Givit, a matchmaking service for charities and those in need. Just tell Givit what you have (bath products, beauty products, warm blankets, kitchen appliances, old computers) and they will put the call out to dozens of charities to help find the ideal recipient.
What charities do you believe need the most help at Christmas? Let us know by commenting below...