I love Christmas, and in particular the run-up to Christmas. The buzz of getting the Christmas tree and decorations up, baking festive treats and sampling all the seasonal menus, the parties and the music. Then of course there’s advent calendars, which have seen an explosion in popularity over the past couple of years.
I can’t remember a year when I’ve not had some form of advent calendar or candle to count down the days. I feel very privileged and blessed to be in a situation where I can afford not just an advent calendar, but all of the things that I love about Christmas.
However there are many who are not so fortunate. For some, Christmastime can be a real struggle, even to have enough food to put on the table.
That’s why this year I’ve decided that I’m taking part in #FoodBankAdvent.
The Trussell Trust are a UK charity that coordinate the largest network of food banks in the country. Their statistics show that food bank usage has increased by a worrying 13% since last year, with a 45% spike in referrals for three-day emergency food parcels in the two weeks before Christmas. There are now more than 14 million people living below the poverty line in the UK. These statistics are not only very worrying, they make me incredibly sad. This is why I choose to take part in #FoodBankAdvent.
If you want a real look at just what it feels like to need a foodbank, watch this excerpt of I, Daniel Blake (about a man who finds himself needing to get help from the state for the first time in his life), which shows a heart wrenching scene at a food bank. It certainly made me stop and think:
What is #FoodBankAdvent?
I’m a member of a wonderful group of bloggers who write about all things money: UK Money Bloggers. Last year they introduced a type of reverse advent calendar where instead of opening an advent calendar window each day, they set something aside to donate to a food bank every day. This could be done for 24 days (similar to a traditional advent calendar), or any number of days in the weeks and months before Christmas. All items were placed into a box, and once full it was simply dropped off at a local food bank. In some areas supermarkets even had drop-off points.
This year the reverse advent calendar is back, and we’re encouraging as many people as possible to take part and spread the word about this wonderful way of helping families in real need at Christmas.
An Advent Calendar You Can Start Today
The thing with food banks is, if they’re to feed all the people who come at the busiest time of year just before Christmas, they need the food before then. If you’re looking for a way to start your countdown to Christmas early, please consider doing a reverse advent calendar of your own and thereby supporting #FoodBankAdvent.
All you need to do is get a box or bag and start today adding an item per day. If you do this for the traditional 24 days that an advent calendar would normally run for, this would take you to around 9th December. Take your collection to your local foodbank on or around 9th December to help with feeding families not just for Christmas, but also in those vital winter months at the start of the new year.
Alternatively you could consider doing a 12 day contribution (1 or 2 items per day), and drop this off around 28th November to really help with the Christmas rush.
Or simply do your #FoodBankAdvent calendar for the rest of the days left in November, then you can switch to having your own regular advent calendar for the rest of the approach to Christmas. Whichever option you decide upon, please get involved. Every single donation, no matter how large or small helps.
What To Include
If you’re able, find your local food bank and check their website or contact them to see what they are most in need of. Different centres have different needs throughout the year.
For example, my local food bank currently needs tinned fruit, coffee, sugar, rice, long life milk, toiletries and squash, but they have plenty of pasta, beans, cereal and soup already.
The kinds of foods which are really useful include:
- Pasta, rice, pasta sauce, tinned tomatoes, lentils, beans, pulses
- Tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit
- Tea, coffee, biscuits, UHT milk
- Long life fruit juice
There is also a great demand for non food items such as:
- Toiletries: toilet paper, deoderant, shower gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand wipes
- Household items: laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid
- Feminine products: sanitary towels, tampons
- Baby supplies: nappies, baby wipes, baby food
Delivering Your Parcel
On your local food bank website you will be able to find locations that you can deliver your reverse advent calendar to.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Tesco have a partnership with The Trussell Trust, and when you donate in store they calculate the total value of all donations received and add a further donation of 20% on top. Tesco are running a food collection drive from 29th November - 1st December 2018, so if there’s a store you can easily get to, this may be a good option for you. Please do check first that your local store is taking part though.
Spread The Word
Another important part of #FoodBankAdvent is telling as many other people as possible about this idea. Please feel free to share this post on social media or with any of your friends or family who may be interested. If you’re a blogger, vlogger or have any social outlet you can use to highlight this idea, please consider creating your own post about this. And wherever you talk about it, please use the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent
Need Help Yourself?
Perhaps you may be going through a difficult time yourself at the moment. Hard times can hit unexpectedly at any time. Please know if you are struggling that there are so many people and support structures in place to help. We may not always know the right things to say, but we are here nevertheless to do what we can.
If you find yourself in need, please get help. Here’s a starting point on the Trussell Trust site. Things will get better, this too shall pass.
Want To Help More?
Perhaps you’re in the situation where you would like to help even more. There are opportunities for you to volunteer your time or make donations at the Trussell Trust website.
Have A Feel Good Countdown to Christmas
Even if you can’t take part in #FoodBankAdvent this year, you can help just by sharing this post, or creating your own tweet, Facebook post or Instagram story. Or even just telling a friend!
Any little thing you can do will help, and better yet I’m going to bet that it will make you feel good in these (sometimes stressful) days counting down to Christmas.
I would love to see any posts or photos that you share about #FoodBankAdvent, so please consider tagging me:
- Twitter: @lifedesigntoday
- Instagram: @inspiringlifedesign
- Facebook: facebook.com/inspiringlifedesign
- YouTube: Inspiring LifeDesign
Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a wonderful countdown to Christmas.
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Previous & Next Posts
My last post shared how I got on with my income hustle profits in October.
My next post is another thought experiment What Do You Do If You Only Had 10 Years Left To Live?