Kiwis are feeling super charitable this Christmas thanks to the rough and tumble year Covid has brought. With 12 days until the big day, there is an awful lot you can do to make the season special for others.
Financial ways to give back
Donating to charity is a great way to give back. Charities love your food and presents. They love volunteers. But they really need your cash. I can't list all the ways to donate your money. Google "Christmas appeal" and you'll find a whole bunch of fundraisers. All of the usual suspects need your money. You'll find specific Christmas charities such as Christmas Box.
Most corporates and large retailers have campaigns. For example, The Warehouse is selling Christmas tote bags designed by Trelise Cooper, baubles and more with proceeds going to Variety. It also accepts unwrapped gifts, which will be given to Women's Refuge.
Volunteer in your community
The gift of time is also valuable. Do be aware, however, that many charities are already chock-a-block with volunteers for Christmas. They start planning their activities early in the year. If volunteering is something you'd like to do, then make it a New Year's resolution and sign up for ongoing work.
You'll find all sorts of opportunities through Volunteering NZ or one of its regional centres, which act as clearing houses for volunteer roles with many charities. Volunteering Auckland has a list of ideas for giving back this Christmas. The ones that caught my eye were helping at local animal shelters, which are always inundated with need at Christmas, or visiting local rest homes. Also check out Seekvolunteer.co.nz, or individual charities' websites. At the Auckland City Mission, for example, you can find volunteer roles on the website Aucklandcitymission.org.nz.
If you want to volunteer even more locally, ask friends if they know of need or post on your local Facebook community group.
Support food banks
Virtually every supermarket in the country has donation bins for food. As well as basics, you could pop little seasonal luxuries in as well and make someone's Christmas day. Think of what you'd like to receive. Don't forget, however, that charities that provide food parcels also need everyday items such as dishwashing liquid, toothpaste and shampoo. Another way is to buy a family's Christmas dinner through the Salvation Army/Countdown's Foodbank Project at Foodbank.org.nz. The Sallies have many other projects and it's worth checking out Salvationarmy.org.nz. If you want to drop food in your community visit Foodbank.co.nz to find a centre near you. Or drop food at one of the local community pantries that are popping up around the country. Some are listed at the Pātaka kai website Patakai.co.nz. Other charities that provide food parcels at Christmas include Christmas Box, Bellyful, and Age Concern. Both Kaibosh and Love Soup, combine food rescue with feeding people in need.
Welcome others into your Christmas
Do you know waifs and strays who for whatever reason don't have anyone to spend Christmas with? That can include older people. They won't tell you they're alone this Christmas. But many would love an invitation. It may well be you in the same situation one day. Older people are the future you.
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Get in the community spirit
An idea from Volunteering Auckland's general manager Cheryll Martin is send some love by posting hand made Christmas cards in your neighbour's letterboxes. Or get together with them to clean up a local stream, park or beach.
You'll find many more ways to give back this year. It might just be making a phone call to someone to say you care. Say thank you to the underpaid and overworked courier driver delivering your Christmas cheer. Swap your secret Santa for charity Santa. Start a Givealittle.org.nz campaign donating to a registered charity. Treat a stranger. Or simply do any random act of kindness.