Charitable Christmas gifts and volunteering…

FI- feed the world

Reviving 1980s pop songs isn’t the only way to combat food poverty this Christmas – there are hosts of great organisations out there helping us help others.

A goat from Oxfam Unwrapped or a veg box from Send a Cow can make all the difference to a rural African family – and the gift pack or card will make a friend of family member feel good too – while volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen helps tackle hunger closer to home.

  • Help a family feed themselves
  • Cook a Christmas meal for someone in need
  • Collect and distribute food for charities

Help a family feed themselves

Mx3-help a family

As well as selling lots of lovely hand-crafted gifts and cards in their physical shops, Oxfam has a great online gift service, Oxfam Unwrapped, that allows you to give presents to disadvantaged communities around the world who are suffering the impacts of climate change, dealing with an emergency or living without adequate sanitation and healthcare. Gifts include a share in a farmyard (£5), safe water for ten people (£10) and a hive of honey bees (£12).

Send a Cow works in a vein, but the name doesn’t quite say it all – you can also send a chicken (£7), a keyhole garden (£14), a stove (£25) and much, much more. Each family who receives a gift gets training on how to use it and engages to pass on some of the benefits (chicks, vegetables, home-baked bread …) to another family, so the effects of your gift will, excuse the pun, snowball. What’s more, until 31st December 2015, the UK Government will match every gift, thereby doubling the benefits. Your friend or family member receives either a physical gift pack or a virtual e-card – and the heart-warming knowledge of the good that their gift is doing.


Cook a Christmas meal for someone in need

Mx3-cook a xmas meal

There are a great many people on Britain’s streets who most certainly do know it’s Christmas time and who are likely to feel even more isolated as a result. Crisis at Christmas has projects in Birmingham, Coventry & Warwickshire, Edinburgh, London and Newcastle, helping bring a bit of festive cheer to homeless people this Christmas Day. They need volunteers to coordinate the day’s events, transport guests, provide services such as massage and hairdressing, organise art and craft workshops, provide entertainment and cook Christmas breakfast and lunch as well as serve tea and coffee throughout the day. Not only do the guests have a wonderful day, but the volunteers have a fabulously festive time too.

If you’re wondering where the food comes from for such charity and community meals, then the answer may be FoodCycle. Through their 20 projects across the UK, their volunteers collect surplus food from supermarkets, prepare it into wonderful meals, and then serve those meals to people in their community who don’t have the money, time or equipment to cook a proper meal for themselves. You don’t need to be a Michelin-starred chef – just an enthusiastic and sociable person with a few hours of free time.


Collect and distribute food for charities

Mx3-Collect and distribute

If you aren’t free on Christmas Day itself, or if cooking isn’t your thing, why not volunteer for a food bank, by either collecting donations from supermarkets, sorting donated food for distribution or meeting clients and giving out food? The Trussell Trust is looking for volunteers on a one-off, part-time or full-time basis at food banks around the country.

You can also help FareShare, one of FoodCycle’s partners, by sorting food in one of their 20 buzzing regional centres or distributing it to local charities.

With so many great ways of helping others have a truly festive season – and having a great time yourself into the bargain – there’s absolutely no excuse for being ‘bah, humbug’ about Christmas.

Lucy Palmer

Lucy Palmer

Lucy is an ex-TEFL-teacher and keen foodie with a particular fondness for Sicilian seafood. She fancies herself as a bit of a linguist and enjoys delighting/boring her colleagues with language-related trivia. She is an obsessive reader, cyclist and collector of pebbles. Her most memorable experiences include climbing a Mayan pyramid at dawn, working with baby orangutans, and accidentally smashing all the company champagne glasses.

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