9 December 2014

An Alternative Gift Guide: Shopping for Strangers

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With Christmas fast approaching, thoughts are turning to buying perfect presents and every other post on my feed at the minute seems to be a beauty lover's gift guide.

There is something about finding that perfect gift for a loved one that is hard to beat, but I thought today I would offer you an alternative guide of sorts that will allow you the opportunity to provide a gift for a stranger but which could enhance their lives, if even for a short while.

Give as You Live: A nice easy one to begin with! I wrote about using Give as You Live last year but it's definitely worth knowing about as it can help all year round. Give as You Live allows you to raise money for your chosen charity when you shop online. You simply sign up, choose your charity and install the toolbar, which will then appear when you visit a participating website. You don't pay any extra and the money is donated from the total you paid to the retailer. Over 3000 retailers are affiliated with Give as You Live, including Amazon, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and ASOS so if you're doing any online shopping this year I would recommend using this to raise some extra cash for your chosen cause.

Crisis at Christmas: Homelessness is a year-round problem and since 2010 the numbers of homeless people in the UK has increased. Close to 2,500 people slept rough each night last year, but the true figures of homelessness are difficult to quantify due to the hidden nature of the problem. Those who are homeless are often likely to have mental health issues and the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47.
Crisis has been at the forefront of ending homelessness and helping those who are currently on the streets and their Crisis at Christmas campaign is no different. For £21.62 you can reserve a place at a Crisis centre for a homeless person, providing them with three hot meals, access to support and medical assistance, a shower and the opportunity to gain advice and assistance. It really could make all the difference to someone who is sleeping rough and provide them with vital support.
For more information on the Crisis at Christmas campaign or to donate, go here. You can also give a general donation to Crisis here.


The Body Shop: The Body Shop is a bit of a mainstay with Christmas gifts as it is (if you've smelt basically any of their products then you'll know why!) but this year they've teamed up with War Child to provide children in areas of conflict with the chance to attend lessons and gain an education. The Body Shop will donate money from certain gifts to War Child and help send a child to school. You can read more about this project here.
FYI- The Body Shop is also affiliated with Give as You Live so you can do twice the amount of good without even leaving your bed!

Oxfam Unwrapped: Oxfam is a charity dear to my heart, having volunteered there for a year while completing my Masters. Even before I was involved with them, I always bought a couple of their Unwrapped gifts to give to people each year and will definitely do so this year too.
Oxfam Unwrapped gifts begin at £5 and allow you to purchase practical, useful items and services for people in less economically developed countries. There is a range to choose from, from mosquito nets to goats to clean water for an entire school, and each gift will make a real difference to the lives of people across the world, keeping them safe from disease or providing them with the tools to develop their own livelihoods.

Donate to a food bank: The thought that there are people in the UK relying on food banks to feed themselves and their children makes my blood boil. It is an absolute travesty that people have been left so vulnerable and reliant on the kindness of strangers, but that is a rant for another day.
I am so glad that there are people out there who are organising these vital services. There are over 400 food banks being operated by the Trussell Trust alone, with independently-operated food banks thought to double that figure.
Donating to a food bank couldn't be simpler. You can search for your nearest Trussell Trust food bank here and simply take along some non-perishable items which will help prevent those in your community going hungry. Many supermarkets are also taking donations in the run up to Christmas so it's worth keeping an eye out when you're out shopping and slipping a few extra tins into the trolley.
You can also donate cash to the Trussell Trust here.

So there you have it- a few simple ways to do some good this Christmas. This is by no means a definitive list but more of a rough guide to some of the good things that are out there this Christmas trying to improve the lives of others.

Will you be using one of these charitable ideas this Christmas? Please also let me know if there are any causes or events you've found to donate to this year; I 'd love to learn of any more! Let me know what charities are important to you or how you help out- not just at Christmas but all year round!

This post is not sponsored by any of the organisations mentioned and I have not been asked to write this post by anyone. I simply wanted to share some information on charities and events that could do with a helping hand; not just at Christmas but all year round.
I also do not mean to imply that anyone *should* donate to any of these organisations!

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