With Christmas just around the corner our fabulous Guest Blogger, Meg Salter, has shared her thoughts on the benefits and importance of Christmas giving. Read on for some super-helpful tips on ways we can give back to the local community this Christmas, while also teaching our children about the joy of giving.
A lot of the talk amongst parents at Christmas time is about the excitement levels of the children. With the impending arrival of Santa we definitely notice that kids are just that little more enthusiastic about absolutely everything, easy to pull into line with the mere mention of ‘Santa’s list’ and parents are more attuned with which toys and games capture the most attention.
On the flip-side, conversation inevitably turns to the less fortunate children and families that find it difficult to provide for themselves, let alone spoil each other at Christmas. The luck that I feel with my own situations is always tinged by a desperate need to want to help others out. I certainly find that the community in Canberra is a very kind and generous one; Canberrans value sharing and seem to care deeply about those less fortunate.
When my daughter was 3, I took her to help me pack and deliver hampers. We had a lovely time together, and we met some truly lovely and inspirational people, however the best part of the experience was answering the questions that arose. For example, when she asked why Corn Flakes and other ‘boring’ essentials were considered a ‘Christmas gift’, I got the opportunity to explain to her that not everyone can afford to have a well-stocked pantry all year round. In around 2 hours, she came to understand that we were lucky, not normal, and that there were lots of people who would really appreciate things that she already took for granted.
In this day and age, I firmly believe it is important to teach children that although receiving gifts is extremely exciting, there is much joy in giving as well. Getting your kids involved in gift buying, wrapping and giving a nice gift or a preloved toy is a wonderful way to encourage them to understand the value of helping others in the community, and develop in them a deeper sense of appreciation for what they have and the lives they live. Encouraging them to get involved with packing and delivering hampers, making donations of yummy or essential treats, and helping to cook and serve meals to those less fortunate is the best things we can do to create a generation of kind and caring humans.
So I thought I would put together a list for all of our readers of some great Christmas Charities around town who can help locals in need over the holiday period.
Sometimes there are rules around donating soft toys as they are difficult to clean properly, so if you have a bag-full of teddies it is worth making sure the charity will accept them before you drop them off. St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Barnados, Marymead and hospitals will generally take preloved items including toys and books.
St John’s Care operate a Christmas Present Room ‘toy shop with no register’ to provide parents who cannot afford a present for their child an opportunity to pick up a gift. In 2013, 44 parents took advantage of this service on the first day it was open which proves it is a much needed initiative. Giving Trees Smith Family have a ‘make a toy donation’ initiative ensures disadvantaged children receive toys or books.
The RSPCA is always busier at this time of year, and can always do with donations of money, towels and blankets. Salvation Army, Smith Family and St Vincent de Paul can always use extra funds and are in the know with where their funds are best spent. Karinya House is a women’s shelter that does amazing work to keep young mums and their families safe.
There are a number of lunches hosted around Canberra through both religious and non-religious organisations that rely on volunteers to host, cook, serve and clean up for those who would otherwise go without a meal or have nowhere else to go. Lonely elderly will make up the majority of the guests, although there is always a spattering of new immigrants, parents who care for children with disabilities, homeless and those unable to afford a hearty meal. Hamper donations always require energetic volunteers who can help shop, pack and deliver hampers and boxes. The Canberra Basket Brigade is a wonderful organisation who relies on the generosity of volunteers to fund raise, pack and deliver boxes a few weeks before Christmas to a list of needy provided by local relief organisations.
Between managing Auridian Training & Consulting and travelling as an international sales speaker and business consultant, Meg Salter is the proud mum of two delicious and spirited young children who keep her happy, grounded and always in need of a beverage. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.