As we gear up for one of the most expensive and busy months of the year, we can become consumed with our own deadlines, stresses and plans. But don't forget about the wider community and those within it who perhaps don’t have plans for the festive season or budgets for gifts.
While so many of us look forward to Christmas day and the festivities before and after, there are some who dread the disappointment that this period may bring. While we enjoy prime meat cuts, prawns and bubbles, there are some who will dine at a shelter, grateful for any food at all. While we balk at the price of the latest gadgets, feel frustrated that we have to wait in line, and get annoyed there are no parks at Westfields, there are some who don’t have a car to park or anyone to buy gifts for even if they could.
But don’t despair, there is much you can do to balance the books, ease your conscience and give back during a time which can be challenging for many.
Here are some simple ways to give back this Christmas:
The Australian Mutuals Foundation
Australian Mutual Bank is committed to social responsibility and is very proud to have established and launched the Australian Mutuals Foundation in 2016.
The primary purpose of the AMF is to provide a vehicle for Australian Mutual Bank and other Mutual Banks, Credit Unions, Building Societies and Cooperative banking to assist underprivileged children in Australia and to alleviate poverty in some of the poorest communities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific by the creation of sustainable cooperative financial organisations.
You can donate directly to the AMF here.
Barnardos is Australia’s leading child protection charity providing foster care and children’s family and youth services. A charity close to the hearts of Australian Mutual Bank staff for many years, you can donate directly to Barnardos Australia and help disadvantaged children across Australia.
Australian Mutual Bank is proud to be supporting the Barnardos Gifts for Kids Christmas Appeal. A wonderful initiative designed to bring smiles to the many young people receiving care from Barnardos this year. Choose from a wide range of popular toys and games via this online appeal. Your selection is then delivered by Barnardos Australia to one of the many children and young people who are recipients of their services and care.
Instead of buying a pet from a pet shop or a breeder (which in many cases use unethical breeding methods) adopt a pet already needing a home from RSPCA if you're planning to expand your family this year.
Adopt a Koala
Alternatively adopt a pet you can’t cuddle but which needs funds to help keep it safe. Koalas have now moved to the endangered list and are in need of help to raise much needed funds to protect this precious and endangered native species.
Kmart Wishing Tree
Several of the big department stores have a donation tree where you can leave wrapped gifts for people less fortunate that yourself. Kmart is just one of them. Consider keeping aside any appropriate unwanted and unopened gifts received this year to donate to the collection next year.
Support Small and Shop Locally
Small businesses across Australia are struggling to stay afloat due to increased running costs and reduced sales. Many family-owned businesses will not reopen their doors in 2024. Consider supporting small business this year and keep a small business operating and their family fed this Christmas.
See if there is a local food bank, community kitchen or shelter you can support by volunteering your time over the busy festive season.
There are many ways to give back to our local and international communities. Get your kids involved and introduce the idea of giving ahead of receiving. Drop off a care package to an elderly neighbour or offer some child minding to the single parents in your life. Seek out a charity which resonates and allocate some of your Christmas budget to giving back this year.
Not only will you be sharing good will and kindness, but you will also feel pretty fabulous too. And of course, a reminder that any time of year is a good time to have a generous heart, not just at Christmas.
Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and small business owner. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.