GWCU's guide to giving back to your community this Christmas
The true joy of the holiday season is spreading kindness, whether that is in the form of gifts, a roast dinner or simply spending time with one another. This year, take the opportunity to spread that kindness further in your community. Giving back to those who may not have the same joys around the holidays can be life changing, for both you and them.
Here’s our guide to ways to give back to your community this Christmas which go beyond traditional gifts.
Serve your homeless community during the holidays
This Christmas, due to rising demand brought on by the cost-of-living crisis, food banks and homeless shelters around the country are in need of items that will keep their doors open to communities that require support. They are a fulfilling and budget friendly way to give back to your local community during the festive season. While food banks accept donations throughout the year, many are currently encouraging donations of holiday themed items to curate warm and delicious Christmas meals for the community.
The South and East Bristol Foodbank is accepting food donations varying from Christmas puddings, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cake and many other items. The full list is on their website linked here.
Christmas Care Swindon is providing donation opportunities for food items to serve to the homeless community during the days leading up to Christmas. They have a donation day planned for Saturday, December 17th between 10am and 2pm so be sure to visit their website to get more information on the kind of items they need. They are also accepting monetary donations to support the homeless community.
Similarly, The Swindon Food Collective is always looking for long lasting food items to add to their pantry and distribute regularly. They are also happy accepting monetary donations and are currently taking volunteer enquiries.
In Dorset, festive food donations are being collected by Dorset Chamber to support communities during the Christmas holidays. They are accepting donations of food and have partnered up with local charities who aid homeless communities to provide toiletries, socks, and underwear.
Spread joy to children spending Christmas in the hospital
Unfortunately, many children are spending their Christmas in the hospital or in other forms of hospice care. To help spread some joy, we have provided some charities that are working to bring some light to them this Christmas.
Children’s Hospice Southwest, provide specialist palliative care for children as well as supporting their families. Take advantage of their fundraisers to help children in hospice care while simultaneously Christmas shopping for your loved ones. You can also buy Christmas cards, calendars and other merchandise that directly contributes to ensuring safe, happy and comfortable care for children in and around Southwest England.
The Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, the Grand Appeal, works closely with families with children undergoing treatment. They are accepting donations to help their fundraiser for Cots for Tots which contributes to children’s medical research and equipment, art and music therapy and family accommodation. Donate here.
The Sick Children’s Trust, which provides warm and comfortable homes for families near their child’s treatment centres, is accepting donations for children in need all around the country. Their website has a list of items that are accepted along with information on where to send them.
‘Tis the season to support refugees
Refugees experience isolation and are separated from loved ones during the holiday season and your local communities need your help more than ever to serve those who have been displaced. Many refugee families struggle to not only provide gifts this holiday season but meet basic needs. Any contributions made to create a safe and happy environment for them could go a long way.
If you would like to donate gifts to refugees, many communities have set up donation points in their local community centres. Dorset has donation points all around the county to provide gifts ranging from sweets, toys, stationary and warm clothes for Ukrainian refugees. Dorset County is also providing opportunities around the holiday season to deliver warm meals and gifts to Ukrainian refugees in their area. Find out more information here.
Communities near and around Gloucestershire are also taking donations for refugees from Afghanistan. Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS) have provided a comprehensive list of donation items they are accepting.
In Bristol, Aid Box Community is hosting Refutrees, a Christmas tree shop that donates their funds to refugees seeking asylum in the country. There are various volunteer roles open from salesperson to delivery driver and slots available every day of the week.
The Choose Love shop, based in London, has an online shop that allows you to buy bundles of necessities for refugees around the world. So far, the organisation has provided hot meals, warm clothes, medical treatments, and legal advice to almost 4 million refugees. Their £15 hot meal kit feed a family for 3 days. Choose love this Christmas and donate here.
Donate blood to save a life this Christmas
If you have a busy holiday season ahead of you, a simple and budget friendly way to contribute to your local community is by donating blood. While the ‘amber alert’ on blood stocks was lifted in November, NHS Blood and Transplant continues to encourage donations, especially of rarer blood types like O positive and O negative, to maintain blood stocks in the aftermath of the pandemic. Your donation could directly save someone’s life this holiday season. Book an appointment near you!
Keep animals warm this winter
Your communities’ furry friends could also benefit from some kindness. The RSPCA has hundreds of branches around the country with each branch in need of volunteers and donations. Contact your local branch to see how you can help this Christmas.
If you want to donate some extra cash, the National Animal Welfare Trust accepts donations to keep food in their animals’ bowls. A £10 donation keeps an animal fed for a month. Click here if you want to contribute.
Shelters are also happy to accept donations. The Cheltenham Animal Shelter are accepting clean blankets, towels, sheets, toys and treats. If you want to donate items with ease, The Bristol Animal Rescue Centre has posted a link to their Amazon Wishlist with various items that their animals need.