How can I support charities this Christmas?
From sending a child in need a gift to volunteering at a community food bank, this is how to help those in need this festive season
Charity and Christmas have long gone hand in hand. As Charles Dickens – the celebrated author of A Christmas Carol and the man credited with influencing how we celebrate the festive season today – once said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”
Christmas is a festival of giving, and not just in the material sense. 2020 has been a particularly hard time for many and helping others would be a great way to end a tough year.
Though Coronavirus restrictions mean that many charities have had to suspend or alter their usual Christmas goodwill activities, there are still plenty of initiatives you can be part of that will help spread some good cheer this Christmas.
Make a donation
At this time of year, most charities are running festive appeals, asking for monetary donations to help them continue their work. You can make a one-off donation to a charity of your choice or start a regular donation. Or, to combine charitable and festive giving, do your Christmas shopping with brands that give back.
Send a book or a toy
Spread a little love to one of the 14,250 children in care this Christmas with the gift of reading. By supporting the annual BookTrust Christmas appeal, you can send a book to a child in need, giving them a much-needed parcel to open on Christmas Day. The Salvation Army is also calling for gifts for children for its Christmas Present Appeal, as is the Hackney-based Winter Toy Appeal.
Provide a Christmas dinner
Refuge, a charity that helps women and children who have suffered domestic violence, is running a festive appeal that allows you to send parcels to its service users. One of those is a Christmas dinner. For just £25, you can provide all the festive trimmings for one woman and her children.
Fill up a food bank
Demand for food banks has skyrocketed this year. According to the Trussell Trust, it handed out 1.2 million emergency food parcels between April and September, representing a 47% year-on-year increase. Donate to a food bank in your local community to make sure your neighbours have enough to eat this Christmas. Use the Trussell Trust to find your closest.
Be a volunteer
Many charities offer extra services around Christmas, and so need extra volunteers at this time. You can help out by lending your services to a charity such as Crisis, which works to end homelessness. Though its services are reduced this year due to the pandemic, Crisis is still looking for helpers at many of its locations to fill roles such as delivering food, being a friendly voice at the end of a telephone, and leading creative workshops.
Wrap for charity
Many of the ways we would normally fundraise at this time of year have been restricted by Covid-19. However, there are still ways that you can raise a little extra cash for your charity of choice. Missing People, a charity that strives to find and support adults and children who have gone missing, suggests a festive wrapping service. Simply set up a JustGiving page linked to a charity and offer to gift wrap Christmas shopping for friends, family and neighbours in exchange for a donation.