Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Small acts, big impact.

Tomorrow a lot of children (and adults) will start opening windows on their advent calendars. For a lot of us that means a small chocolate treat and a larger on on the last day. The last few years I've bought Lego advent calenders and in the past I've filled the pockets of a felt christmas tree that proved trickier than I expected. Tiny cars and chocolate coins seemed to fit, but after a few days Brown Bear was onto me and said, "they're all the same thing." Oh well.

As I was sorting through baby clothes and toys today to donate to charity I realised that the run up to Christmas is busy for me, but not because of shopping or baking Christmas cake or puddings. I take this time to think of ways to give and donating clothes, food, toys and time are all part of this for me.

So I was delighted to see a 'kindness advent calendar' doing the rounds on Facebook. It suggests 24 acts of kindness you can do during the period of advent and they are mostly, easy, quick and cheap or free. Check it out - some of the ideas are so simple, yet lovely.

In the same spirit I'm going to share my annual 'do something good' list with you. I feel passionately that we can all do something postive and helpful - however small.

Donate toys: a lot of charities will accept toys at Christmas. Some will specify that they must be new, but others will ask that they are clean and in good condition. What a lovely way to regift loved toys that are no longer played with ? 

Be kind all day: this includes things like holding the door open, letting someone in front of you in traffic, popping your change into a donation box. Smile at people, even if you don't know them. Little things.

Rehome clothes: organisations that work with the homeless often ask for coats, jumpers, blankets at this time of year as the cold makes sleeping rough even harder. Clothing for men is often in demand, but women's clothes can also be taken. Ask if they need other items too such as toiletries or sanitary products. I've given paper cups and teabags to charities that run soup kitchens in the winter in addition to gloves, hats and scarves. 

Give blood: Ok that is a biggie, but it's really important. There is just as much need for blood products over the winter months, but due to holidays fewer people donate. If you can give blood please make an appointment to donate. I always joke that I only do it for the tea and biscuits afterwards - they do nice biscuits :)

Donate to a food bank: If you're doing the shopping can you add a few items to your basket or trolley to pop into the food donation box ? A lot of people rely on food donations to feed their families and anything you can give will make a difference. As well as longlife staple food items I like to pop in some treats like yummy biscuits or chocolate for children. 

Now this one is the hardest to do for a lot of people, but it really is worth it.

Listen to someone: I mean really listen. Put your phone away, sit down and take the time. Maybe have a cup of tea or a meal, but just have an honest conversation in which you give someone your full attention. If you can do this with your child, a parent, a neighbour who lives alone even better.

I hope you try some of these suggestions. Take your pick and if you'd like to share with me what you did I'd love to hear about it.