Helping Out at Christmas


By The Croft Wellbeing Team

The Croft Magazine // Now that Christmas is around the corner, many of us are starting to feel the Christmas spirit. The Wellbeing team discussed what we thought was important to tell you this Christmas: self-care, mental health, spending time with family. But we realised something we hadn’t considered – how lucky a lot of us are to even feel excited this Christmas.

There are many families in the UK that are struggling this Christmas. After the pandemic saw a huge rise in unemployment, Christmas is going to look a little different this year. For many of us, we still can't risk elderly family members wellbeing, and some of us may be spending Christmas without certain loved ones for the first time.

Food banks at supermarkets

For many food is the most important part of Christmas, so what happens when you can’t afford to put together a Christmas feast? Food banks are a great way to help out struggling families this season. They’re dotted around all the local supermarkets in Bristol so it’s really easy to get involved! It seems that the majority of donations consist of baked beans and pasta, so how about trying to donate something a little more festive – everyone deserves treats at Christmas. It’s easy to forget how much of a difference all of those delicious nibbles make to feelings of festivity. Some suggestions of suitable donations are: some Christmas cookies and mince pies, a pot of hot chocolate or even a cheeky bottle of mulled wine! All of these small donations could make a big difference to struggling families this year and it feels just as good giving gifts as it does receiving them, so why not try it out?

The food bank donation point at Tesco Express in Clifton Village | Epigram / Maddy Wheeler

Volunteering at a soup kitchens and charities

The festive period is one of the most challenging for those who are living in impoverished circumstances. Across the UK food banks work around the clock throughout the year (but especially the winter) to provide individuals and families with essentials to support them. Volunteering at my local food bank is one of the most humbling experiences I have had. This year I will be giving up a few hours of my time across the lead up to Christmas to go down and support the efforts of my local community. Tasks I will be expecting to complete include: sorting out donations into separate piles, creating donation bags and organising children’s toys and gifts according to age. Food banks are always grateful for however much time you can spare, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need to commit a few weeks (although this would be incredible). If you maintain that it would not be possible to volunteer then you could find a local food bank or donation point and give what you can. Whilst donating food and toiletries is always important, during the festive period I would suggest considering donating books or toys as well, because no child should be left without a gift at Christmas.

There's plenty of soup at the food banks... | Epigram / Charlie Tonks

Giving a stranger a present

Many charities are holding present schemes where they are asking for donations. The Salvation Army holds present appeals every year, with a collected lost of things they would like to be donated. This year, due to COVID-19 they are asking for donations to not be wrapped, and for donations to remain in cases if possible.

On their website, they list a whole range of ideas. From teddy bears to DVDs, they want to make sure no body goes without this year. As I was browsing the list it broke my heart to think about a child not having anything at Christmas. Whilst Christmas shouldn’t just be about presents, every child deserves to have a present waiting for them on Christmas morning.

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Christmas is a time for giving, to share, to be kind and generous and help those in need. Even as students who may not be able to afford to help out a lot, even little things can change someone's Christmas for the better.

It doesn’t matter how big or small a donation is, what matters is helping those who may be less fortunate this December. Especially after the pandemic, your donations may make a huge difference to many families.

Featured Image: Epigram / Charlie Tonks

How have you helped out this Christmas? Let us know!