One in five people in NZ live in poverty. This is a hard time of year for lots of reasons, economic disparity being just one. I know we want less consumerism and plastic in the world but we also don’t want kids feeling sad and left out on Christmas day. If Christmas is their thing, we want them to be able to celebrate it.
One in five children will wake up to just another day, listening to the shouts of joy from next door neighbours unwrapping presents. Imagine the stress a parent living in poverty feels right now. Things are hard enough throughout the year, but Christmas just takes the stress to another level.
We have the power to make a change here. Instead of the last-minute Christmas gift splurging, stop a minute, look around your community and think about who might need a hand. Think about single mums and dads, people living alone, those supporting multi-generational families, folks on low incomes or trying to make ends meet on benefits. Think about those who will be missing a loved one, are dealing with chronic illness, whether it be mental or physical.
What can you do?
Buy supermarket gift cards and pop them in letterboxes of people you think need support.
Buy extra items when you do your big Christmas grocery shop and deliver a box to someone in your community who needs it.
If there is a homeless person near you, arrange to deliver them Christmas dinner or deliver a care package. Ask what they need. Socks are often in high demand.
Put together some care packages to deliver to folks in your community you’d like to support.
Do extra Christmas baking to thank the volunteers and support workers going the extra mile these holidays.
Have an orphans Christmas. Boxing Day is a great time for this. Throw an open invite to those in your circle who don’t have family around them or are struggling or are just in need of a darn good gathering. Everyone brings food to share and bean bags/picnic blankets. Food doesn’t need to cost the earth, it’s the being together and the love that counts. You can always head to the beach or put the hose on for the kids later in the afternoon.
Domestic violence escalates around Christmas and New Year, you might like to make a donation to SHINE, The Aunties or your local women’s refuge.
If there’s a single parent in your community drop off a gift for them. Something special that they wouldn’t buy for themselves, wrap it beautifully and tell them it’s for under the tree. Gifts will be under the tree for the kids (if they’re lucky) but its rare for the single parent to have one for them. It’s good for the kids to see their parent appreciated. If you know the family well, you could offer to take the kids Christmas shopping and they could choose their own gift/s for their mum/dad.
If you know a family who would like to celebrate, but cannot, turn up with a Christmas tree, lights and decorations, box of chocolates, Christmas crackers and a food parcel. Instant Christmas deliveries are super fun and let me tell you, the sparkles in those children’s eyes and their joy will be something that stays with you forever.
Auckland City Mission have handed out 5000 care packages already. Today people lined up for hours in torrential rain and 400 of them went home emptyhanded as they’d run out. Donations to the Auckland City Mission will be gratefully received I am sure. Or whatever your local mission is.
We’re not wealthy (er, by any definition) but each year part of our Christmas preparations is being of service in some way. I am a single mama who has wept on opening the letterbox to find a supermarket gift card, a box of groceries on the front porch, a gift or the offer of a bach, so I could give my kid a holiday. I know what it feels like.
Your gift can be anonymous, or freely given in person. Just give. Let’s lift those up who need us.
Take your kid/s along for the ride. It’s no big deal, we give because we can and because it’s the right thing to do. Join us?