Thursday 27 November 2014

Have you ever wanted to be Santa? #Foodbankfillup

I'm whacking a disclaimer straight at the top here:

*This post is not intended to be a demonstration of matyrdom, a dictation of what you should and shouldn't do with your cash or a guilt trip.*

Right. That said, let's move on and I'll tell you about my recent failure to follow through on good intent, an experience I had today and why I won't sponsor a donkey (other animals are available not to sponsor).

A few weeks ago, a shared post popped up on my Facebook timeline from comedian, Jason Manford. He had posted a picture of a huge collection of advent calendars that he had purchased to donate to a food bank. What followed was mostly positive comments but they were unfortunatly accompanied by a barrage of negative feedback and accusations including him using a charitable donation for self promotion and people demonstrating anger that they felt Jason was perhaps 'showing up' those who couldn't afford to donate 500 advent calendars with an 'I'm better than you' attitude. My reaction to this feedback was that each negative comment was born of ignorance. Not everyone can afford to donate something to a charity, sure, but when someone with such a big following promotes a cause, even by saying 'look at what I've done,' then even if a small amount of people are informed and are happily inspired, then more donations are made and this can only be a good thing. Surely?

Following this, I saw a few news reports about food banks and I decided that I would donate. I started searching for where I could do this...and then Baby B clonked Littlest B on the head with a toy, my internet provider (or non provider) rang to tell me they still wouldn't be providing anytime soon and I got an email with an invoice for £threefiguresum as my car insurance premium was going up because my new build property address isn't known. My own (relatively small) real life problems put a wall of ignorance back up and I forgot about my intention to do a 'good deed.'

Today however, I went to my local Tesco and saw a food bank collection. I approached the man standing next to 3 half full trolleys who I feel probably wasn't ready for my inquisition. I wanted to know where the food was going and what sort of things were needed in detail. I needed to decide if a donation would be worth while. As I walked away, talking to Baby B about what the stuff in the trolleys was for, I actually became quite emotional. Speaking the words out loud myself had a much bigger impact than hearing them on the news or from someone in a promotional t-shirt.

"The food in the trolleys are for families who don't have enough pennies in their money boxes to buy food each week, Christmas dinner or treats for their children like advent calendars or chocolate coins"

I welled up a tiny bit as the reality of it hit me. There are a lot of people who really do rely on food banks, mostly through no fault of their own. Many of us don't think twice about treating ourselves to an overpriced coffee. And why not?! We work hard to have the things that we do. However as I overheard a child convince their parent to buy the £3 advent calendar instead of the £1.50 one and having just spent (honestly, needlessly) £8.75 in the cafe, I decided I most certainly could afford a donation. I'm not saying YOU could. Or that you SHOULD, but would you? Would you forget the set '£3, £5 or £10' donations via text and buy one single item, even a 10p Freddo bar (wait... WHAT?! 20p?!!!) to make a single person smile.

At this point I should add that I don't feel I can donate a monthly DD to a charity and I'm guilty of avoiding anyone with a clipboard in the street. I'm not rich and along with most of the county, as a family, we watch our monthly outgoings carefully. We ensure we are in a position to treat our two boys occasionally and have experiences as a family. So I won't sponsor a donkey (or any other animal) or pay a regular amount to a charity. I do not dispute that people who CAN do this are an invaluable source of income to some charities and this is important. It's really great that some people can and do do this. To me however, it is the individual acts and personable experiences that make charitable acts what they are. I have been involved in the organising of many events raising money for charities, promoting small charities where I can, getting involved where possible with time, I regularly donate to charity shops and I don't mind paying one off donations when getting involved in fundraisers. We must not forget that awareness is key. The more people who 'know' the more people can do.

This brings me to the power of social media and the World Wide Web and your mission, should you choose to accept.
Today we bought and donated a box of mince pies, two advent calendars and two bags of chocolate coins. This means that a family can now have a mince pie on Christmas Eve and leave one for Santa, two children can enjoy the countdown to Christmas with a chocolate treat each day and two children will get something extra from Santa. It feels good and I make no apologies for it. It's ok to tell you all because some of you might not have known about food banks and now you do and you want to donate. Some of you might have intended to donate but forgot and this reminded you and some of you might not be able to donate but you can share this with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

So this got me thinking. For every 100 people that read this, what if 50 donated a bag of chocolate coins for 50p each, 10 donated a box of cereal, 5 donated a tin of vegetables and 35 people shared this post? That means for every 1000 reads of this...(hang on, I was never good with numbers...ok...that's...)
...350 people would share this with a lot of other people
...50 households would have something extra on their dinner plates
...10 families could eat a decent breakfast for a week
...and 500 children would receive an extra gift in their stocking, essentially making you Santa!!

What if we all did share and donate? What if we all promoted when and where collections were happening? What if we all nominated (this is a thing right?!) someone else to share or donate? Because awareness is just as important and this is why I wrote this post.

So, here's how:
1) Use the power of the internet to find when and where you could make a donation to a food bank locally.

2) Share the link to this post along with your food bank collection info and #Foodbankfillup

3) Make a donation IF you can.

4) Nominate 3 other people to do the same.

(Don't forget to copy and paste these steps so they know what to do!)

Help to move this forward and put a few more smiles on a few more faces.

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