How I’ve decided to ‘Donate Local’ this Christmas

9 December 2020

There are so many additional reasons why people are struggling this year, and so much extra support needed. Covid-19 has meant thousands have lost their jobs and thrown millions into lower incomes. Many people are struggling to put food on the table for their children, and having a young daughter myself, this really struck a cord.

Working for Community First Yorkshire, I see so many ways in which our projects, and other charities, help people in financial hardship. I wanted to try to make a difference on a more personal level and help those who have struggled financially.

The work of professional footballer, Marcus Rashford, to stop children going hungry during the school holidays really made me think about how I could help over the Christmas break, and in particular, on Christmas day. I’d heard a story on social media about someone who’d asked their local primary school if there was a particular family who were struggling and created a Christmas hamper for them, with food for Christmas dinner, selection boxes, advent calendars, and some gifts for their two children.

I decided that I’d like to take this idea and make it work in the village I live in. I organised a food bank donation weekend in December 2020, I checked with our local food bank what items they were looking for (and any they weren’t – they already had lots of mince pies!), I then publicised it on our local Facebook village group. The local primary school kindly agreed to have a day of donations and villagers showed their support by having donation boxes outside their homes over the weekend for people to drop their food items off. It was a great way to give back to our local community, in a socially distanced way. We supported York Food bank who support people in crisis.

It was wonderful to see how generous and kind hearted so many of the people in my community are, and I enjoyed speaking to people and hearing their stories (from the end of the drive) when they dropped off their donations. I was overwhelmed with how much people had donated, we received a fantastic amount of Christmas food and gifts. Give it a try in your village – if you’re having a Christmas lights trail, why not incorporate food donation boxes for people when they are walking round?

There are so many other ways you could consider giving to charity this year, in a socially distanced world – instead of the usual office Secret Santa, you could donate to a local charity instead, and then help even more by spreading the word about them and what they do to your colleagues. Or how about organising a Christmas quiz at your works Christmas Zoom meeting in place of the usual Christmas party? Half of the proceeds to the winner, half to a local charity.

Sue Oliver, schemes manager at MHA Communities Harrogate has donated her usual secret santa gift this year and said: “Normally at this time of year, my colleagues and I would be spending an agreed amount on a ‘Secret Santa’ gift. As we are not meeting up this Christmas, I have donated my ‘gift’ to the new MHA Communities Harrogate JustGiving page.

“The new Methodist Homes MHA scheme in #Harrogate will help prevent loneliness and isolation among older people in the local community, who continue to live independently in their own homes, through telephone and video befriending and digital activities. The aim is to enable people to stay connected in their communities so that they can #livelaterlifewell.

“Please join me in donating the value of your usual workplace ‘Secret Santa’ gifts or a round of drinks at the office party!”

I’m not great at sending Christmas cards, and I normally make a donation to charity instead, but those few that I do send, I buy them from a local charity. This year, because we haven’t been able to see our friends and family as much as normal, I will be trying to send out cards with notes in them to tell everyone how much I’m missing them, but I will be supporting a local charity by buying them from their shop.

If you’re running low on Christmas decorations this year (maybe you also have a small child or pet who just can’t help themselves from touching and breaking baubles!), many charities also sell Christmas decorations, you could brighten up your home and support a local charity close to your heart at the same time.

Each year around this time I choose 12 charities to donate to each month for the next year, this isn’t often the way charities might prefer people to donate to them, I know many prefer a regular donation, however it means that I research and get to know about 12 new local charities and as well as my small donation, I can support them by being a champion for their work, telling others about them and sharing their social media posts. This year all of my 12 charities are going to be local and I’m really looking forward to hearing about lots of local charities through our #DonateLocal campaign to make my choices for 2021, I’m open to suggestions if anyone would like to get in touch via our social media pages.

Donate Toys
The Reuse Santa Appeal by Yorwaste Ltd is co-ordinated in partnership with City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council – York or North Yorkshire Household Waste Recycling Centre.

The Batley Sporting Charitable Trust and Batley Bulldogs have teamed up on a toy appeal, to provide disadvantaged children with toys this Christmas. They are looking for donations of new toys for children of Primary school age, such as puzzles, games, sports equipment, things to get creative such as colouring, painting or making or toys that both boys and girls will play with. They will also be taking donations via their Go Fund Me page to buy toys.

The Banana Box Project in Selby is asking for donations of good quality (can be pre-loved) toys, games and books to make toys available to the ‘3 children out of 10’ in Selby who may be living in poverty.

The Hartlepool Giving Tree has been so popular this year that they have expanded their area and are donating to people and charities all over the UK. This is an amazing project which creates a Christmas tag for a child, asking for a specific item for Christmas, you can then choose which child you buy for and send them their gift. Many of these children are fleeing domestic violence and have had to leave everything, all of their toys behind.

Donate gift cards or household objects
IDAS Christmas appeal are asking for bedding sets, crockery, towels, cheap mobile phones for those fleeing domestic violence.

For more ideas on ways you can spread some Christmas cheer this year, take a look at this blog by one of our development officers, Lizzie – It’ll be Covid this Christmas.

If you have any other thoughts or ideas we’d love to hear from you so we can share these with others. We’d love to hear how you are supporting people in your community. Please tweet us @CommFirstYorks or tag us on Facebook @Comm1stYorks