This Christmas there are lots of ways you can give back to make a difference locally in your community.
Although helping out at your local food bank is the one most synonymous with Christmas, there are plenty of other choices such as helping the elderly and sparing some time to visit them, packing and delivering parcels to those in need, or spending time with the homeless.
Here are a few ideas to get you started..
What organisations can I volunteer with to provide free Christmas meals to people in need?
This will depend on the region you are in. Churches or your local Salvation Army often provide a free Christmas dinner. Local community clubs, like the Lions, may also offer a free Christmas dinner.
In past years the meals were arranged by various organised depending on the location. Some of the providers included City Mission (Auckland and Christchurch), Salvation Army (Wellington) and Church of Christ (Dunedin).
Some have schemes to provide food parcels to people who are experiencing financial hardship, or toys to their children – this is another option you could consider. Contact your local city council or Citizens Advice Bureau for more information about who will be offering Christmas dinners in your region this year. To find out more about becoming a volunteer at the City Mission please contact their Volunteer Co-ordinator on: Telephone: 3650 635 or Email: email@example.com
What organisations can I donate toys to for children in need this Christmas?
The Kmart Wishing Tree, in conjunction with the Sallies:
With your gifts in tow, visit your nearest Kmart store and take a tag from the Wishing Tree. Using one end of the tag, indicate the age group and gender you think might like to receive your gift. All you need to do then is place the gift under the Wishing Tree. Don’t forget to take the other half of the tag to hang on your tree at home.
Alternatively, you can leave your gift/s at the Express Drop Off point located at the front of their stores. A representative from The Sallies will then collect the gifts from Kmart stores and oversee the distribution to those in need.
Gifts do not need to be purchased from Kmart; they can be purchased from any retailer, or can even be handmade. Kmart and the Sallies are, however unable to accept used or second-hand goods.
Foster Hope are collecting unwrapped new Christmas gifts to give to New Zealand children from newborn to 16 years who will be in foster care or crisis accommodation this festive season. Sadly the festive season is a peak time for child protection agencies that are faced daily with the reality and severity of Child Abuse, Neglect and Crisis in our local communities.
Their aim is to bring a little bit of sunshine and hope to their most vulnerable children, when often hope is lost and grief and depression invade their little lives. If you would like to donate a present (unwrapped please) check out their ‘drop off’ points as listed on their website.
What organisations exist locally where I can help the elderly during Christmas?
Christmas is traditionally a time for families to come together and for friends to catch up. But for the elderly, it can be a very isolating and sad time. Age Concern operates across New Zealand, with the local branch Canterbury always pleased to hear from people of all ages who can offer time for Christmas visits, or alternatively are willing to donate items to be utilised in gift baskets for the elderly, or money to support the organisation’s tireless work.
You can find more information on the AgeConcern’s Canterbury website here.