Embrace the true meaning of Christmas by giving back this season

We’re all a little guilty of only talking about the festive season as a time for parties and frivolity. And while the wishlists and the presents and the tables laden with food are the reality for many of us, for others, Christmas is a time that can put disadvantaged situations under a spotlight — highlighting the real need that some people have for a helping hand, especially after such a hard 2020.

That said, it’s good to remember the true spirit of selflessness that sits at the heart of Christmas, and make an effort to (between the parties) do something for others. Here are eight simple ways to start.

Give a stress-free slumber at Safe Night
The good people at Women’s Refuge offer an easy booking platform with which to pay for a room for someone escaping family violence. Every night, over 160 women in New Zealand need a safe place to escape to, and for just $20, you can provide a night of safety at Women’s Refuge for a woman and child. This includes a safe, clean bed, hot meals, 24-hour security, childcare, supportive staff and helpful advice. You can also buy multiple lots of $20 Safe Nights, so why not dig deep and purchase a few?

Give a boost to a child in foster care with Foster Hope
Many foster children arrive at their new placements with little more than the clothes on their backs, and Foster Hope Charitable Trust works to provide them with a backpack of essential items to bring a little hope into what is a very stressful time in their lives. On the Foster Hope website, you can donate money for specific items of various size and monetary value, from underwear and pyjamas to an adventure camp and, suitable for this time of year, a Christmas present.

Donate to or volunteer at Sunday Blessings Auckland
Since its formation in 2018, community group Sunday Blessings Auckland has been utilising community surplus food and volunteers to feed up to 160 guests respectively, on a Sunday and Tuesday evening outside Auckland Public Library. Donate via the Givealittle page, where $2 is all it takes to cover the cost of a meal, because 100 percent of the donation goes to people in need with zero admin costs from Sunday Blessings. If you have a little more time on your hands, you can also volunteer in person. Find more details here.

Donate to or volunteer at Everybody Eats
As New Zealand’s first pay-as-you-feel restaurant pop-up, which also has a permanent space in Onehunga, Everybody Eats’ mission to ‘feed bellies not bins’ might not be exclusive to the Christmas period, but it’s a goal that really resonates at this time. While we’re planning our turkey and ham and various Christmas cakes, some Kiwi families are struggling to just put basic food on their tables every day — a discrepancy that Everybody Eats wants to see changed. Help this worthy cause by volunteering in the Everybody Eats kitchen or as waitstaff, or by simply donating. Every $10 will allow Everybody Eats to provide three extra meals to the homeless or food insecure. The organisation has also teamed up with local boutique Superette this year, which is offering beautiful gift wrapping for a gold coin (or more) donation, all of which will be passed on to Everybody Eats for their ongoing services.

Do a clear out and give your unwanted threads to Koha Apparel
On a mission to repurpose quality clothing for those in need, while also aiming to reduce the amount of clothing waste going to landfill, Koha Apparel distributes clothing and other necessities directly to those in need alongside Everybody Eats and LIFE Soup Kitchen. With pop-ups that run once or twice a week serving approximately 220 people throughout the month and distributing over 400 items of clothing, the organisation helps people feel good in what they put on each morning. They’re currently accepting donations of women’s, men’s and children’s summer clothing, find the guidelines here and follow them on Instagram here.

Support the Auckland City Mission
The Auckland City Mission plays a huge role in helping families in need to have a special Christmas, whether that be with some food on the table, some presents under the tree or some shelter. This year, because of Covid-19, the Mission will be holding several Christmas Day events throughout the city rather than one big one, while the facilities and community centre at its Union Street building are offering services like never before. Right now, the ACM needs donations of non-perishable food and unwrapped, unused gifts for families and children who would otherwise go without this year. See here for more information on how you can help.

Swap the usual stocking fillers for Oxfam’s meaningful gift cards
Cheap and cheerful stocking fillers are outdated. Now, with issues of waste and unchecked consumerism shining a rather unflattering light on the Christmas culture of old, it’s time we started giving in a more meaningful way. Oxfam’s Unwrapped initiative is the perfect way to give a gift that changes lives. Simply choose a card based on the issue you want to help, receive or download it and give it to your friend or loved one. Oxfam, meanwhile, will give the ‘gift’ to a family or community in need on behalf of the receiver. And those warm fuzzies you get from giving a great present? Well, they’ll be bigger than ever.

Fund the planting of a native tree with Trees that Count
Less of a social enterprise but still an important environmental one, Trees That Count is a conservation charity with the vision of helping plant 200 million native trees across New Zealand. One of the most powerful actions we can take to combat climate change, and protect our beautiful landscapes, waterways and forests for future generations, the planting of a native tree is a lovely gift to give a friend, colleague or relative, and is easily purchased on the Trees That Count website for as little as $10. Find more details here.

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