It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the lights and glamour of the Christmas season and it’s over in the blink of an eye. We do so much to make sure our family and friends have a wonderful festive season but often it’s easy to forget that many others are not so fortunate. We are living in a world where materialism is glorified and instant gratification is plentiful; social media is designed to hide and mask the ugly or the undesirable. We learn to look away. So this festive season, I wanted to share ways for each of us to give back to our community, connect with others and give up some of our time to help those in need.
Of course, depending on where you live will change what kind of organisations you can volunteer with. I’d start by Googling volunteer opportunities in your city and keeping an eye on charity pages on social media and pin boards in local shopping centres. I’d also recommend finding out if your city has an official volunteers hub and seeing if you can join them. Most of this list is quite general but any links I share will be specifically for Perth. I found this list for Aussies looking to volunteer really helpful.
-Soup Kitchens and Homeless Shelters
Personally, these are some of my favourite places to volunteer at; it’s a great place to help out if you are comfortable working with lots of different people, can converse easily with others and enjoy problem solving and thinking on your feet. Generally you will take part in cleaning up, working with and serving food, spending time with those experiencing homelessness or hardship and helping out with general tasks. I always like to bring my own apron and a big smile.
Red Cross Soup Patrol also check out this link.
Food Bank WA
Manna Victoria Park
This is my absolute favourite volunteering event every Christmas; in recent years, I’ve started doing this with my mum who also really enjoys the experience. This volunteering opportunity works really well if you are a gift wrapping extraordinaire, can work under pressure (it sure gets busy sometimes), you can problem solve (yeah you try wrapping things such as beach balls and hats whilst a whole family watches you) and you like a good mix between team work and working on your own (it helps to keep an eye on your wrapping mates incase one of them is struggling).
Lifeline (the main organisation I use to find gift wrapping volunteer opportunities).
-Donations of Cash, Clothes or Items
Time is certainly a commodity and it’s understandable that not everyone can give up hours of their day no matter how much they want to. If you are financially able enough to donate, that is just as good this time of year. There are heaps of charities out there that really benefit some extra donations this time of year so shop around and see who you connect with. I have listed a few of my favourite
Give a Feed
The Smith Family – Gifts of Toys and Books
Little Things For Tiny Tots
Operation Sunshine WA
Charity Clothing Drop off Day
I found this link with loads more links and information so please check that out here.
Christmas Lunch in the Park
Probably the largest charity even on Christmas, Christmas Lunch in the Park is an event by Mission Australia designed to share the spirit of Christmas with people in Perth who are experiencing homelessness, vulnerability or disadvantage. While families across Perth come together to celebrate, smile and enjoy each other’s company this Christmas Day, we must not forget those who are experiencing homelessness, are alone or disadvantaged. For these people in our community, Christmas can be an extremely difficult time of year. Now in it’s 46th year, Christmas Lunch in the Park is designed to reach these individuals and offer them hope, compassion and celebration on Christmas Day. Centred around a traditional shared Christmas lunch, the event it is designed to provide individuals with support both on the day and into the future.
Christmas Lunch in the Park
-Share the Dignity
This charity is quite close to my heart and I’ve been working with them for several years. Share the Dignity run donation drives where you fill a handbag or backpack with beauty and hygiene items, mainly pads and tampons, which are then distributed amongst those experiencing homelessness. Living on the streets is hard enough and I cannot imagine what it’s like when your monthly cycle begins. This charity really does help restore dignity to many women who are experiencing hardship. From personal experience, I would recommend donating your items in a backpack as these are hands down the most popular.
Share the Dignity
Operation Christmas Child
I have to thank my high school homeroom teacher for this one; Operation Christmas Child is a gift collection charity where you fill a shoe box with nonperishable gift and items aimed at a child of a particular age bracket (your choice). Your shoe box is then taken to a third-world country where it is donated to a child within that age bracket. I’ve loved and participated with this charity for many years, even though high school is over. Please note: as these shoeboxes need to be sent around the world, the cut off date for shoe box drop off expires in October/November. Please keep this charity in mind for next year.
Operation Christmas Child
This can be a challenging volunteer opportunity but certainly a very rewarding one. I’d highly recommend calling some nursing homes in your area to make sure they accept volunteers and are able to accomodate you as some get very busy, have their own volunteer systems and possibly background checks and requirements. This volunteering opportunity is great for those who are excellent at communication, have great people skills, lots of patience and the ability to adapt to changes in their environment.
-Keep an eye on those struggling
Please never feel bad if you cannot give back by donating items, clothes, toys, time or money; we all struggle in different ways. One of the best ways of giving back to your community is by checking in with people who might be doing it tough or struggling. Keep an eye on those you think are “strong” as sometimes they are just very good at hiding whats really going on. Be an active listener; sometimes a problem can’t be fixed but you can certainly be there to talk it through. See if you can offer help; be it picking up some groceries, wrapping gifts or helping to clean. These little acts of kindness can really help someone.
For as long as I can remember, giving back a little during the Christmas season was just a part of our celebrations. My family was always fans of stores that allowed you to buy a gift for children that you left under a specific tree (I don’t think stores do these any more). We also often volunteered at various organisations and made sure to offer help wherever we could. I’m not writing this to make myself seem superior, I really just want to share that giving back can be such a wonderful thing to do during a very stressful time. You giving up a few hours or even an afternoon can really make a massive difference in someones life and thats worth so much more than anything.
I’d love to encourage you to give back this year, especially after what we’ve all been going through, it’s understandable that some may be struggling more than others. Volunteering during Christmas is a great time to take a minute and really appreciate our own lives and it puts certain things inter perspective. Wishing you all a wonderful festive season!
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.