Friday, December 19, 2014

Alternative Xmas Gift Ideas: For Social Good

The excess of Christmas continues to despair me. Such a waste. Such misguided expression. Such a perpetual feeding of our consumer driven world, and a distraction from the things that matter - family, love, hope, and humanity.

So I wanted to share some of the places we could all direct our spending, to do some good in the world instead, or as well, as the excess. For people who most need it - those faced with little hope.

With the glow of the Season's Greetings lights across Victoria Harbour on my recent visit to Hong Kong, here are my current Top 5 better places to throw your cash this Christmas:

SisterWorks - a Melbourne community group project working on empowering asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women, to find employment, and ultimately support them to gain the better life they dreamt of. Microfinance is something I really think is helpful for many people around the world, and the value of the additional emotional support goes without saying!

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, also in Melbourne, is a community organisation that provides me with hope of a better Australia everyday. Their work in advocacy and real support to the people who need it blows me away all the time. The ASCR Christmas Appeal supports their ongoing work, of which 95% of funds come from community donations. These funds go to help with providing meals and groceries, legal assistance and case support, employment services, education and development programs, as well as a much needed accessible health service.

A friend of mine does a monthly grocery drive for the ASRC Food Bank, which I am impressed with every time she posts about it. I would love to be part of one. Give me a shout out if you want to form one together!

The situation in Syria is the world's current tragedy that makes my eye leak the most over this past year. There is so much that is needed for the people of Syria, but whilst the war rages, the basics are really the only realistic thing you and I can help with at this time. Assistance for some 6 million displaced people is what's needed, which is a mammoth task. The UN World Food Program was facing a funding crisis in their ability to continue to provide basic food supplies to those in need in Syria, and thus launched this appeal to call for funds to keep this vital assistance available. So, here is the link for the Syria Emergency UN WFP Appeal.

Closer to home is the need for disadvantaged Aussie families, and the gift of the joys of childhood - books, being read to, and having toys to play with. Buy a book for a child in need, through the Smith Family Toy And Book Appeal.

I always add a goat, or a cow, or something useful from the Oxfam Unwrapped Christmas Gifts to my Secret Santa wishlist, but never get one! No one thinks I am serious, but I am. A sustainable gift to a community, to help them feed and support themselves, is always a wish of mine!

These are the things that would bring back some of the idea of the Christmas spirit to me, and I'll be spreading donations across these 5 amazing causes over the weekend to try and bring me a little cheer as we read of the horrors going on in the world. May 2015 be a year where we win, more than we cry for humanity.

Please feel free to add any worthwhile causes YOU feel passionately about this Christmas, in the comments, for us all to consider, and give!

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