Did any of you see BBC Breakfast the other day? You know, the one with the sweet elderly gentleman who told us all about how he had been alone for Christmas for the past 20 years? It was lovely to see the public reaction to helping him and making sure he has an enjoyable Christmas this year. What I find amazing is that he volunteers for Age UK and that helps him to make new friends and meet people from all walks of life. It got me thinking (as I’m sure it got others thinking), what can we do to help others at Christmas? I’ve got together some ways that you can help others less fortunate than yourself this year. Maybe we can find something that can be continued throughout the year.
Volunteer at a food bank
It’s a shame, but food banks keep seeing increases in the amount of people using them. Take some time at Christmas to volunteer at one or at a soup kitchen. Just giving a couple of hours of your time makes a huge difference to the people running the charity and those who use it. At this time of year, spread a bit of Christmas joy by using your time to help others in need.
Visit someone who might be lonely
You don’t have to sign up to a befriending scheme for this. There may be elderly people living in your street who don’t have anyone seeing them around Christmas. Go and see them and spend a couple of hours having a cuppa and a chat. There are also other people who may be alone at Christmas; international students are a big one to think about at university. If you live in the area, see if there is anyone in Ipswich who would like to spend a bit of time with people at Christmas.
Help out at a community meal
Lots of churches and community centres do a meal on Christmas day. These are for people who may not be able to afford it or who might be alone on Christmas day. There’s always lots to do like cooking, serving, cleaning up. It will take a couple of hours out of your day, but you’ll also see how much of an impact your time and energy has on making another person’s day.
Join a shoe box appeal
I remember doing shoe box appeals in primary school and I have no idea why I ever stopped! At the beginning of the season, start adding a few bits and pieces to your shopping list; sweets, toiletries, gloves, little toys. You can make individual shoe boxes for children and parents who may not get anything at Christmas. Donate them to a charity drop off such as St Augustine in Ipswich.
Reverse advent calendar
I thought this was such a great idea when I first saw it! At the beginning of December, start adding a couple of items each day to your shopping list. Put these items aside and when it gets to a couple of days before Christmas, donate these to your local food bank. People call it a “reverse advent calendar”; I don’t know why, but it’s a great idea!
Donate unwanted warm clothes
I like to have a big clear out of my clothes every so often, so around Christmas, it’s a great idea to start looking through at what warm clothing you don’t wear anymore and can donate to charity. People will really make use of the warm clothes at this time of year; we all know how chilly it can get!
Random acts of kindness
Random acts of kindness can be the best way to spread some Christmas joy. Offer to pick up some groceries for elderly people. Give your neighbour a hand with the kids as they get all excited for Christmas. Simple acts can mean so much to people at this time of year, so each time you go out, try to find a way to help at least one person that day.