Christmas time is about warmth. The roar of the fire, the closeness of family and friends around you – it all blends together in a big woolly ball of cosiness and love. It’s perfectly natural to feel like you want to share that feeling with the world. And, when we think about people that might still be stuck out there in the cold, the desire to help people less fortunate than us is pretty overwhelming.
Around this time of year, though, charities and foundations are constantly on alert for what they call ‘fair weather altruists’. These are people with a good heart who want to make a contribution at Christmas time but forget one crucial fact – so does everybody else.
The influx of well-meaning but untrained volunteers during December can be so great that it puts added strain on charities. You don’t want to be a hindrance rather than a help, so finding the right avenue for charity is essential when you’re in the UK.
Make a donation
This might seem like a bit of a letdown, but many charities really need the money much more than manpower. An extra pair of hands might be able to wash clothes or cook food for homeless people, but a £50 donation could buy much-needed medication or fund extra beds in a hostel. It’s these tangible assets that charities are often short of, and your donation really could make somebody’s Christmas, or perhaps even save a life.
Volunteer as a fundraiser
Giving from your own pocket is extremely generous, but giving up your time to convince others to do so could have an even greater impact. It’s not a glamorous job – holding a tin out for donations might even feel a bit intrusive – but it’s a much-needed part of running a charity. You can even inject your own brand of Christmas spirit into the mix with a Santa hat and some music. It’s a great way to give your time.
Look to local events
Keep a careful eye on specific campaigns that are going on in and around your local area. Big charities are, of course, big targets for volunteers, but local enterprises often go overlooked this time of year. Small events can go understaffed, often run by one or two exceptional but overworked volunteers. Check in the windows of charity shops for any local events, and always remember to email ahead to see if they need a helping hand. You’d be amazed at how appreciative people can be.
Contact retirement homes
This can be a terrible time of year to be without a family. For many elderly people, having someone to talk to, even just for a short time, can make all the difference. Drop an email to local retirement homes near you and ask if anybody needs a friend.
Share your skills
You’d be surprised at how useful you could be. Whether you’re a health worker, a hairdresser, or even an entertainer, there’s probably somebody out there who desperately needs your help. Charities like Crisis can give you a platform to make the most of your skills and do some really good work. Even if you have nothing but a driving license and some wheels, charities like the RSPCA, Age UK, and British Heart Foundation desperately need your help to get people from point A to B.
Follow some of these ideas and you’ll ensure that your act of charity isn’t an empty gesture. Remember, giving is a family affair, so get into the Christmas spirit together and do something good for someone this year. We are a proud supporter of the TreadRight Foundation, so that’s where we’ll be donating this Christmas.