Monday, November 24, 2008

Take Action #6 - Approaching Christmas-Part 2

Photo credit: Christmas /Noël by Bebulaki

Yesterday I wrote about evaluating our priorities over the Christmas break and making an effort to avoid being caught up in the commercial idea of what Christmas is all about. Today I'm going to add to this by offering up 10 suggestions for things that you can integrate into your Christmas celebrations to help those who are struggling at this time.

1. Purchase something of value for those in the developing world as a gift for your loved ones, or if people are asking for gift ideas for you ask for a goat or something just as useful. The World Vision Smiles catalogue has plenty of options as does TEAR Australia's The Worlds Most Useful Gift Catalogue and Oxfam Unwrapped.

2. If your friends and family can't resist the excitement that comes with having something to unwrap consider gifts that will give twice. Buy Fair trade products or products where a percentage of the profit goes to charity. We have a Christmas Card Shop that opens for a couple of months in the lead up to Christmas that only stocks cards from a range of charities. If you do not have a shop like this in your area check out Charity Greeting Cards. Don't know of anywhere that stocks Fair trade gifts check out the Oxfam Shop.

3. While you are doing your present shopping buy an extra gift for someone in need. Your big chain stores such as Kmart and Target work with a range of charity organisations such as the Salvation Army and Uniting Care to distribute gifts.

4. Invite someone to share in one of your Christmas meals. Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. There are many people who do not live near family, have no family or for whatever reason are isolated, they might enjoy some company.

5. Enjoy singing a good carol? Get a few people together and visit an aged care facility for a good sing a long. The residents will not care about your singing ability, they love visitors and a change in routine.

6. Do you really need all of that food? Cut back on the amount of food you purchase for Christmas dinner etc (a lot of it ends up wasted plus you won't feel as disgusting after stuffing yourself). Spend the money you save on buying non perishable items to donate. Church groups and charity organisations collect these things to provide hampers and meals for the needy.

7. Volunteer your time. Lots of organisations need extra help over this period collecting goods, packing hampers, making meals etc.

8. Don't have the time to volunteer yourself? Provide some encouragement for those people who support and care for those in need over this busy time. There many people, paid and volunteers who will work over the holiday period to care for the needy (hospitals, charity orgs, welfare workers etc). Write a letter or card of encouragement, letting them know how important their work is and that it is appreciated.

9. Do some Christmas baking and deliver it a neighbour or someone that you know might be doing it a little tough. Get together with your friends to do this and the rewards will be greater still.

10. Take some time out to reflect on all of the things that you posses and can be thankful for. It could be family, friends, a steady job, a roof over your head, food to eat, good health etc. Consider how you might be able to use the things that you have to improve the lives of others in the coming year.

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