The Gift of Giving at Christmas

I get so excited round the Christmas period, slowly constructing lists of ideas on what to buy my loved ones; but my loved ones are not the only people who make my list. Charities are very close to the top of my list. I make an effort to donate to many charities throughout the year but at Christmas I make the extra effort to.

I am a big believer in “a little bit to me means a lot to someone else”.  With this in mind it is only fitting to do a post on great charities that need more help this time of year and why.

There are 5 regulars on my list and I have listed them below as well as some information about the charities and how you can help. There is one especially dear to my heart, 25 Elves, and I had the privilege of interviewing the masterminds behind it. You wouldn’t believe how it came about!

St Vincent de Paul’s

There are so many people that St Vincent de Paul’s assist throughout the year; those experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness, are unemployed, refugees, those who are struggling with addiction, suffering from physical/mental health, and those families struggling with every day cost of living are their focus. Christmas is no different. St Vincent de Pauls have a “Vinnie’s Christmas Appeal” where you can donate a lump sum to provide a set of clothes and a gift for someone; help a family of four have a Christmas dinner; help keep a roof over their head during the holiday season. With no donation being too small, they also give the option for you to donate as much as you can. You can donate to this charity through this link…

The Salvation Army 

If you visit the Salvation Army’s website you will see that this organisation covers many areas of charity whether it be food, gifts or even financial aid. During December, The Salvation Army assists three times more people compared to any other month due to increased financial pressure at Christmas.

The Salvation Army gives support, shelter, beds and clothes to those in need. Their appeal is called “Give back this Christmas” and you can be a part of it any many ways, not just financially. They’re looking for people to host fundraisers as well as volunteer. For more information use this link…

The Kmart Wishing Tree

Together with The Salvation Army, this charity supports members of the community in need. This is Australia’s largest and longest running Christmas gift Appeal that supports children, adults, seniors and families who are unable to afford gifts at Christmas and beyond.

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal truly does give hope where it’s needed most by providing gifts to those who would otherwise go without, not just at Christmas but at any time of the year.  If you are interested in donating to this appeal, please go online to the Kmart site,or when you’re out doing this year’s Christmas shop why not visit your local Kmart and leave a gift under their ‘Wishing tree’.

Foodbank Australia 

The issue of hunger exists in Australia and not only for those who are homeless. The Foodbank Hunger Report in 2017 found that a shocking 3.6 million Australians, or 15% of the population, have experienced uncertainty with where their next meal is coming from. Foodbank Australia distributes food and groceries through a network of more than 2600 registered charities — including local soup kitchens, community pantries and various refuges.

Foodbank Australia assists 652,000 people a month, including families, retirees and the elderly, students, the ‘working poor’, those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, refugees and those with disabilities.

Foodbank Australia’s ‘most-wanted’ list includes: breakfast cereal, pasta, rice, tea and coffee, long-life milk, and tinned goods. Despite their name being focused on food, items such as shampoo and conditioner, nappies, sanitary items, toothbrushes, toothpaste and household cleaning products are also in big demand. The organisation also accepts monetary donations with “Every $1 supercharged to distribute $8 worth of food and groceries” to charities and schools. You can donate by following this link…

25 Elves 

This charity was created in 2013  by, believe it or not, a little boy named Lachlan who was in grade 4 at the time. For school, Lachie had to complete a project about ‘making change’ in his local community. Lachie wanted to make his project about making change for children at Christmas. His idea was to give children in unfortunate circumstances gifts for Christmas, and items they actually wanted. 

Before long, Lachie’s little project was too big for him to handle on his own so his mother, Christine, gladly jumped on board. Christine got in contact with a friend (Jackie) that worked with foster homes. Together they launched ‘25 Elves’ on Facebook and reached out to the community for help. The response was breathtaking. Christine and Jackie affectionately named all their helpers (carers, helpers, donate-ers etc) Elves. I had the opportunity to speak with Christine and asked her to sum up what 25 Elves was about. Her response was as follows….

Even as the group organisers, we do not have any more information than our faithful Elves about each house or each child. We are not given the names, as they are strictly protected. These children are what I’ve called ‘the end of the line’ kids. They are unable to live with their families, whether that’s due to abuse, or whether there are protection orders in place. It could also mean that the child is unmanageable and therefore lives in the foster home with carers and 2-4 other teens.

At the age of 18, these children are moved onto the big wide world. So it is the charities aim to equip and rehabilitate them to be able to survive and lead their own successful lives.

We love the at arms length approach that we have. These may be kids we’d walk past in the street, or wish they don’t approach us but because we can do this with the best intentions and give without knowing the full situation, it means we can do our very best with no judgement.

You can tell by Christine’s response, just how passionate this family is about the work they do and I am too. I have been donating to this charity for the last 4 years and will continue doing so.

25 Elves keep you up-to-date on Facebook with what they need and how you can help. If you are interested in getting involved with this charity, please join the ‘25 Elves’ Facebook group and make contact with Christine, Lachie, Bella and Jackie.

On a final note, please remember that a lot charities do not accept certain items such as dirty, stained, soiled or torn items, soft toys, alcohol, tobacco, perishable items or used and opened food products. They do however, very appreciatively, accept money or voucher donations, new and/or good condition clothing, toys, books, working electrical goods, non-perishable food such as canned goods and shelf-stable meals that can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container; spreads such as Vegemite and honey, cooking and baking supplies.

I do hope after reading this post, one or two charities have made it onto your Christmas list.

Lastly, I want to remind you that if you are in a position to donate, please remember that ‘a little for us goes a long way to others’. To a family that has nothing, kindness is everything. The gift of giving brings with it a phenomenal feeling of pride.

Have a merry Christmas.


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