I eagerly opened my Accessorize advent calendar to mark the 1st of December on Tuesday! But at this super awesome, festive, best ever time of year I am always sure to remember those less fortunate. I would like to share 25 ways to help people, charities or animals this advent with my readers, to provide inspiration of little ways you can warm the hearts of others on any timescale or budget! Every year I buy lots of small gifts such as selection boxes, scarves and socks and distribute to big issue sales people around the city centre with my mum, I have been doing this since birth and it is one of my favourite traditions. The gratitude shown is inspirational and my heart is filled with festive joy. As Joey tells Phoebe- there is no such thing as a selfless good deed – but I don’t care, I think that is a good thing. Here are the first 7…..
1- Fill a Shoebox-
This is very popular with churches, schools and organisations like scouts and guides, however I have seen great controversy over the different charities running shoebox schemes. Religious organisations sending boxes to children abroad have been found to put religious literature in boxes ignoring the faiths of those receiving, and certain shoe-box schemes for troops of soldiers have been accused by families of those at war as clogging up limited mail postage meaning gifts from families don’t arrive! Don’t abandon the idea though as filling a shoe-box is a great activity for the whole family to enjoy.
Link to hope run a scheme of packing boxes to be sent to both families and elderly people in places like Romania http://linktohope.co.uk/shoebox-appeal/filling-shoebox
Manchester Homeless Shoebox Appeal take boxes for use for homeless people around Manchester however your local area may do the same https://www.facebook.com/homelessshoeboxappealmanchester
If you fancy some non-humans benefitting from your shoebox this year then Monkey World have a scheme where you can box up goodies for the monkeys to enjoy! http://www.monkeyworld.org/shoe-box-appeal
2. Gift Aid your Christmas purchases!
With Gift Aid you and good causes can both benefit from your purchases! The scheme allows charities to claim the basic rate of tax you have paid on any purchases you have made! Hassle free good deeding!
3. Buy charity cards and gifts
Another top tip for Christmas shopping (which is already the best guilt free type of shopping!) is to check out charity shops, online charity gift stalls and eBay shops! Use my gift guide for inspiration too. If you do not make your own Christmas cards then you can buy charity cards- they often are of the highest quality. I bought cards from the Humane Society and The Mayhew this year, as well as making my own. I have seen lovely cards from local hospices such as Bury Hospice, Many Tears Animal Rescue, Animal Aid, PDSA and Cats Protection this year- If you aren’t going online try going in a charity shop to buy them as supermarkets often donate a low amount of the profits made to the charity.
Global Scheme ‘Suspended Coffees’ is one of my favorite things to promote. It allows you to add an extra coffee to your order which is then kept to be claimed by someone in need of it. Such a sweet idea. Not many places are on board currently, but Nexus Art Cafe in Manchester, selected Starbucks stores and The Lampost cafe in Hebden Bridge all operate the program. I liked the fact that in The Lampost I was also able to add a cup of the ‘soup of the day’! Sometimes I prefer to just grab a drink or snack and give it to someone myself, If you are on a budget then my best finds for getting this done are Greggs- £2 for a coffee and any cake (also the belgian buns and iced finger are vegan so you don’t have to contribute to industries you do not support), Poundbakery- 2 hot vegetarian sausage rolls for £1 and Mcdonalds- good quality coffee and and well priced; if you get a loyalty card then you can claim a drink free after a while too. My super top tip for this one is to get a MyWaitrose card enabling you to get a free coffee once per day. I added the bit about getting value because I sometimes go to Costa or Starbucks and add a luxury hot choc or a drink for someone on the street. it is nice sometimes to spread a little luxury. however if I went somewhere cheaper I could spread the warmth further.
5. Give a toy-
There are so many donate a toy schemes you can drop a toy off for. I dropped a toy at my local Paperchase store. Many supermarkets also take toys, our local supermarket even take dog treats for Dogs Trust. Banardos charity shops take toys too and some libraries run seasonal toy drives along with their porch box, Christmas hamper or food bank donation drives. Just adding a small £3 purchase to an Amazon order or a 99p packet of dog treats to your supermarket shop can help the Christmas spirit to keep going.
6. Send a card-
Amnesty International run the amazing Write for Rights campaign and at Christmas enables you to send cards to a prisoner of conscience or human rights defender this festive season. Many churches and community centres run Write for Rights evenings where you can have a mince pie and write a card for your chosen recipient after reading their stories.
7. Save the Planet-
If you are getting a real Christmas tree this year, then make 100% sure that you are going to be taking it to a tree recycling point when it is done fulfilling its Christmas Destiny. It may still have a dreadful fate in the chipper (another ‘Friends’ reference there!) but it will soon become a beautiful new piece of paper or a nice pine chair. Many people also buy recyclable wrapping paper or reuse material or newspaper to make their festivities even more eco-conscious. Of course a huge way to help the environment is to cut down or quit on meat this Christmas, but this is mentioned in a future point on my list of 25.
Have fun this December and I hope you enjoyed day 1 and 2 on your calendars!