5 ways Australians can give back this Christmas

Christmas donation

The concept of ‘Christmas’ means something a little different for everyone. Famous positive thinker Norman Vincent Peale perhaps put it best when he said this special time of year “waves a magic wand” and makes “everything softer and more beautiful”.

Indeed: most of us slow down at Christmas and spend that extra time with those we really love, and those who are connected to us that we perhaps don’t see quite as much during the busyness of the working year. But many of us also feel the wider pull of that spirit of togetherness and gift-giving, and find ourselves thinking ‘how can I give a little something back?

In fact, giving up some of our time, thoughts and money can be nothing short of life-changing, both for the giver and for the recipient. So as another long and bustling year winds down, we’ve come up with five easy and meaningful ways young and busy Australians can give back this Christmas.

Buy an extra gift for a family in need

Remember that feeling, as a kid, when you’d see the lounge room full of presents on Christmas morning?

As you do your shopping this season, spare a thought for the families who struggle not only to fill that spot under the Christmas tree, but simply to keep a roof over their head and dinner on the table.

UnitingCare has been collecting money and gifts every Christmas for 25 years, so look out for the familiar Christmas Appeal the next time you’re in a Target store or donate a few dollars here instead. In the Clover office, we running a Christmas Toy Drive with The Pyjama Foundation.

Give up some of your time

Most of us who are lucky enough to put some thought into our financial future may consider ourselves busy, but it’s also likely that we find ourselves with some precious extra time to burn around Christmas.

Instead of giving a gift or some money, think about giving up some of that other precious resource. It might be a matter of Googling your local soup kitchen, or getting involved with an organisation like OzHarvest or AfterCare, who rely entirely on the kindness of volunteers.

Make a child’s wish come true

Around Christmas, kids from all over the world write their wish lists, and normally it’s the usual stuff: a new bike, a bigger trampoline, a few more PlayStation games.

But some kids just want to get better. And normally, their parents have a wish too: that other Australian families don’t have to go through what they’re going through.

Every Australian knows that Make A Wish try to make really sick kids’ lives just a little better by putting huge, excited smiles on their faces. And for Christmas, the foundation has put out a special appeal for extra much-needed donations.

Give away stuff you don’t need

During the year, things can get pretty hectic – and it shows in your wardrobe.

So that bit of extra time you find yourself with at Christmas is the perfect opportunity to clear it out and give away the things you really don’t use to those who need it much more.

But this Christmas, try to give back by being just a bit more thoughtful about how you donate to your local op shop. It’s NOT a dump, and yet it’s still a fact that of the 300,000 tonnes given Australia-wide in the past year, 60,000 tonnes had to be taken to actual landfill.

So only donate good quality things that work – otherwise the shop can’t sell it and raise money for the community. Not sure where your local op shop is? Find out here.

Do something out of the ordinary

Finally, Christmas is just a perfect opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face with an act of kindness that they really weren’t expecting.

Not sure what we mean? How about handing that homeless person you see all the time a fresh $20? Or knocking on your elderly neighbour’s door and asking if they need a few weeds pulled? How about calling a friend that you’d fallen out with or lost contact with and starting again?

In 2017, it’s often easy to roll our eyes when we hear those tired old Christmas carols crackle over the supermarket speakers. But this Christmas, think a little more about those you love, those who need some help or an extra dollar, and your community as a whole – and really give something back.

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Also published on Medium.